UFC 246 predictions -- Conor McGregor vs. Cowboy Cerrone: Odds, fight card, expert picks, date

It's time for a "Notorious" return. Conor McGregor is making his return to the Octagon on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 246 from T-Mobile Arena when he battles Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. It's been a while since we've seen McGregor fight, 15 months to be exact, and even longer since we've seen him victorious.

While this fight, and the betting line, seems to all point toward McGregor getting his hand raised at the end of the night, there's still some uncertainty heading in with Cerrone's underrated ground game and kickboxing style. Despite his struggles of late with elite competition at 155 pounds in TKO losses to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, "Cowboy" is streaky, boasting a three-fight win streak before that with victories over Mike Perry, Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta.

The rest of the card may not be the deepest UFC has ever put out on a PPV event, but it still provides a look at some big names fans will be looking forward to seeing again. The co-main event features one of the biggest fan favorites in the sport when former women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm takes on Raquel Pennington. Plus, former lightweight champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis is back at lightweight when he takes on Carlos Diego Ferreira.

There's also plenty of prospects to keep an eye on this weekend. Sodiq Yusuff is back in action looking to make a name at featherweight when he battles Andre Fili. Plus, the 21-year-old phenom is back as women's flyweight Maycee Barber takes on veteran Roxanne Modaferri.

Get ready for Saturday's showdown in Las Vegas by listening to the State of Combat with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon, including an in-depth preview of McGregor vs. Cerrone with Hall of Famer 'Suga' Rashad Evans.

Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride. Let's take a closer look at the rest of the card with the latest odds from MGM.

UFC 246 main card

  • Conor McGregor -300 vs. Donald Cerrone +250 -- Welterweights
  • Holly Holm -130 vs. Raquel Pennington +110 -- Women's bantamweights
  • Maurice Greene -125 vs. Aleksei Oleinik +105 -- Heavyweights
  • Ode Osbourne -145 vs. Brian Kelleher +125 -- Bantamweights
  • Carlos Diego Ferreira -220 vs. Anthony Pettis +180 -- Lightweights

Prelims

  • Maycee Barber -800 vs. Roxanne Modafferi +550 -- Women's flyweights
  • Sodiq Yusuff -140 vs. Andre Fili +120 -- Featherweights
  • Nasrat Haqparast -330 vs. Drew Dober +270 -- Lightweights 
  • Aleksa Camur -125 vs. Justin Ledet +105 -- Light heavyweights

Early Prelims

  • Askar Askarov -150 vs. Tim Elliot  +130 -- Flyweights
  • Sabina Mazo -110 vs. JJ Aldrich -110 -- Women's flyweights

Who will win Cerrone vs. McGregor, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 246, all from the expert who's up more than $19,000 on MMA in the past year.

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card with latest odds from MGM. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (editor).

McGregor vs. Cerrone picks

ExpertPick

Brian Campbell

McGregor TKO2

Brent Brookhouse

McGregor TKO1

Matthew Coca

McGregor TKO2

Jack Crosby

McGregor TKO3

Michael Mormile

Cerrone SUB3

Brandon Wise

McGregor TKO3

UFC 246 picks


CampbellBrookhouseCocaCrosbyMormileWise

Holm vs. Pennington

Pennington

Holm

PenningtonPenningtonPenningtonHolm

Oleinik vs. Greene

Greene

Oleinik
Oleinik
GreeneOleinik

Oleinik

Osbourne vs. Kelleher

Kelleher

Osbourne

OsbourneOsbourneOsbourne

Kelleher

Pettis vs. Ferreira

Pettis

Pettis

PettisPettisPettis

Ferriera

Campbell on why McGregor will win: While the question regarding which version of McGregor shows up remains the most important one entering Saturday, especially considering his inactivity, this remains a fight the "Notorious" one can and should win. Cerrone is certainly no slouch, but he's 36 and fresh off a pair of knockout defeats. He also has failed nearly every time he has stepped up to the elite level. Does McGregor need to finish the fight early to have the best chance? Of course. But the combination of his punching accuracy and Cerrone's flash chin is simply too difficult to overlook. McGregor may never be able to regain the magic he lost by being submitted against Nurmagomedov, but a win against Cerrone is a prerequisite for his return to prominence. 

Brookhouse on why McGregor will win: There's a sad truth to this fight: Cerrone has already admitted that he will not fight a smart fight. McGregor's biggest deficiencies are on the ground and through his cardio -- which can also be exploited by forcing him to engage in grappling exchanges. Cerrone has said that he has no intention to take the fight to the ground, though. His plan is to "test himself" against McGregor's striking. Cerrone is no slouch in the striking arena, but barring a concussive knockout shot, a striking war between the two goes the way of McGregor. And if Cerrone is throwing all strategy out the window, he's going to go down in a firefight and he's going to go down quickly.

Coca on why McGregor will win: Conor needs this win. He sounds focused, determined and ready. His weight looks on point, but it's still right to question his cardio. I'm looking for McGregor to keep this on the feet and use his hand speed to set the tone. Feel out Round 1, KO in Round 2.

Crosby on why McGregor will win: I may be made out to look foolish like many others, but I've bought into the notion that we have the old, focused Conor back in our lives. He seems locked in this time around on taking back his kingdom, and Cowboy might actually be the perfect opponent to begin that journey. Cowboy, in unquestionably the most high-profile fight of his illustrious career, will aim to go for broke against the former two-division champion, which will ultimately lead to his demise when McGregor finds the opening to get his career back on the right track.

Wise on why McGregor will win: It's been so hard to get a read on what exactly these two fighters have lined up for Saturday night that I wouldn't feel comfortable betting either way. This is the kind of fight I just want to relax and see how it plays out. But when forced to pick between the two, it's tough not to lean toward McGregor. His youth and experience on the biggest stages make it hard to doubt him. I also think at some point the wear and tear from Cerrone's illustrious career has to catch up with him. His noticeable limp this week doesn't help his case at all. Cerrone comes out guns blazing, but succumbs to the brilliant counter striking that has made McGregor the star he is today.

Wise on why Holm will win: This feels like an incredible tossup given the two fighters and their resumes. It's tough to pick Holm with her recent run and failures on the big stage. However, Pennington is just 10-7 and 1-2 in the last three years with losses to Amanda Nunes and Germaine de Randamie. While I think that Pennington's style matches up well with Holm, I lean on the veteran experience and reach advantages to carry her to a decision victory.

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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