The Mac is back, ladies and gentlemen! Why now, though? Isn’t he loaded with cash after his highly publicized bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr? But does he have a drinking or even worse, a hard drug problem?
We saw him sling a dolly at a bus emotionally and physically injuring some of the UFC’s top fighters including former champion Rose Namajunas.
And how can we forget his punch in the face of an older gentleman in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland simply because the man turned down a free glass of McGregor’s Proper 12 Whiskey?
Here are just a few words from C-Mac on why he is back as he was interviewed during the broadcast of the recent college football national title game.
I tell ya… He needs to be talking to Joe Burrow or good ol’ Coach O on how to prove the haters/doubters wrong and win. What a performance and what a season from that guy! This is off-topic, yes, but both men are currently fighting for the top spot as my #1 man crush.
This brings me back to Conor McGregor, though, who has captivated my fluttering heart with not only his fighting ability but those razor-sharp words as well for years now.
I really hope the old Mac is back!
If you listen closely to the former champ champ, you will understand that he believes he is better than ever. His head coach John Cavanaugh has said the same thing.
He has thickened up his musculature, though, which worries me because the Achilles heel of the Irish superstar has always been his conditioning.
People can say his wrestling is his weakest link but I wholeheartedly disagree. Just because Khabib Nurmagomedov was able to take him down consistently doesn’t mean he’s no good.
“The Eagle”, particularly his offensive wrestling ability, top control, and ground and pound are second to none in MMA today.
Adding muscle to a frame that would naturally compete at around 150 pounds if that was a weight class may not be the best idea, especially when your muscle endurance has failed you in the past.
More on his matchup with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a few.
The rest of the main card is loaded with big-name/high-level fights including Anthony Pettis squaring off against another pressure fighter in Brazil’s Diego Ferreira.
Two longtime top 10 women’s bantamweight fighters Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington in a rematch from all the way back at UFC 184. Holly won that one by unanimous decision and I’m leaning towards the kickboxing specialist again in this matchup. It was a very close fight, though, and Raquy is as tough and hard-nosed as they come.
Today, we are also going to preview a fight between Mexico’s multi-limbed striking specialist Alexa Grasso and the wrestling specialist and bulldog, Brazil’s Claudia Gadelha.
BetOnline.AG has the betting lines for us.
Let’s not waste any more time getting to these picks for the first UFC fight card of the new decade.
Diego Ferreira vs Anthony Pettis
Even though both men are strikers, their styles couldn’t be more different. I’m sure most of you guys are familiar with Anthony Pettis. He is a former WEC and UFC lightweight champion.
“Showtime” has fought just about all of the big names in his career competing inside the Octagon.
Donald Cerrone, Benson Henderson, Joe Lauzon, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira, Jim Miller, Michael Chiesa, and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
This is even more impressive when you consider he tapped out Oliveira who is the all-time leader in the UFC in submission victories as well Michael Chiesa, who is a grappling and submission specialist himself.
If you look at the men who have beaten him, though, you’ll notice that many of them are pressure fighters.
Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier are known to push the pace with their boxing and Tony Ferguson and Nate Diaz are even more aggressive with endless gas tanks.
Anthony likes time and space in there. I get it. I am the same way sometimes. He is a genius at setting traps and landing a big punch or kick.
Sometimes it’s a shot we have never really seen before like when he knocked out Wonderboy with a bounce off the cage superman lead hook or when he climbed up the side of the cage with his feet Bo Jackson style and put his foot square in the mouth of then WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
He is an ever-dangerous competitor but the blueprint to beat him has been laid out for years now. Get in his face. Don’t give him time to think or space to kick.
His opponent, Diego Ferreira, is tailor-made to win this one. Even though the Brazilian doesn’t have significant power in his hands, he still consistently puts his opponents on their back foot. His output is astronomical.
I bet against him in his previous fight against Mairbek Taisumov and boy was I incorrect. Taisumov has incredible power in both hands but was simply overwhelmed by the pressure and volume of his Brazilian opponent.
Diego threw over 300 significant strikes in just 15 minutes of fighting. That was more than double the amount thrown back at him and unless you land that one big shot, twice the output is just too much to overcome.
Pettis was out-thrown more or less 2 to 1 in his previous three losses. He did fight some studs, though, with much more refined striking than Ferreira has shown.
Pettis is dangerous here. I don’t think he will win but he remains a wild card due to his creativity and power in each limb.
The money has poured in on the Brazilian moving the betting line outside of, in my opinion, what is a valuable range.
Both men are incredibly physically tough, though. It might be a bit of a sweat but I like the value on the over 2.5 rounds bet here at (-160).
If Ferreira gets a finish, it will likely be very late in the fight. I am just worried about Anthony doing something we haven’t seen before and KO’ing the rising star.
Claudia Gadelha vs Alexa Grasso
Whew, tough one! This is likely the most evenly matched fight on the entire card. Obviously, the betting odds reflect this.
If you want to pay some juice, I will tell you guys right now that this one is going the distance. The over 2.5 rounds is set at (-300).
Each woman has been in one fight apiece that ended inside the distance in their respective UFC careers.
Claudia is one of those fighters that seems to have been affected heavily by the USADA drug testing program. Even though she has still been able to win some fights against good competition, she just doesn’t appear to be the same fighter.
She is pretty stocky but I think it’s her conditioning that has suffered since USADA more than anything. Maybe her training strategy was to focus primarily on strength and make up the difference in endurance with EPO, an endurance drug.
She has constantly been switching up fight camps as well. I do like where she’s at now, though, in New Jersey under the tutelage of Mark Henry and training alongside the great Frankie Edgar.
Claudia still averages over 3 takedowns per 15 minutes which is usually enough to win a 3 round fight.
Her opponent, Alexa Grasso, has shown steady improvement in each of her UFC appearances. She began her career inside the Octagon with a win over my former training partner and friend Heather Jo Clark.
Since, she has had trouble against takedown specialists with very similar styles as her Brazilian opponent this Saturday, Gadelha.
I love Alexa’s striking and it has improved each fight as well as her takedown defense. Man, I picked her against Carla Esparza a few months ago and “The Cookie Monster” had to completely sell out with lay and pray tactics to baaarely edge out a split decision win.
Of course, I thought Alexa won but that betting bias is a real thing. It was a very good fight.
Grasso did make some tactical errors in that contest that I think she will avoid this Saturday. She threw up quite a few submissions from her back instead of instantly trying to get back to her feet after the two women hit the mat.
She can get up from the bottom and has shown that but at the highest level of MMA, attempting submissions from your back is almost always ill-advised and coached against.
The Mexican star showed me enough against Carla that I could see she is still improving and I expect another level up from her this weekend.
I love and respect the game planning and corner work from Claudia’s new head coach Mark Henry, though. I am leaning towards Grasso but even at (-300), the over 2.5 rounds has value. Just take the over here.
Main Event: Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone
That’s right. Moving right along. The other two fights on the main card are set at very close odds and could really go either way.
The over bet on Holm and Pennington is at (-600) and the fight between Aleksei Oleinik and Maurice Greene is completely dependent on the former’s ability to get this one to the floor.
He has even been known to pull guard and has the best Ezekial choke in the history of MMA while Greene has the power to knock out the Russian who has been KO’ed badly two times in a row.
The prelims honestly have bigger names overall than the main card so check back in our blog section for those later this week.
Now for the main event!
Whew, this line has moved significantly! I believe McGregor opened at around (-150) and I mentioned in a blog a couple of months ago that Mac was money and to jump all over that one.
At (-335), though, my goodness…I don’t know. That’s a big number and I’m sure it’s going to move even more the closer we get to Saturday night.
Conor is a fast started. We all know that. Just look at the Jose Aldo fight. It’s not breaking news either that Cowboy Cerrone is an incredibly slow starter.
Donald has been stopped by strikes within the first 6 minutes in 6 out of his previous 11 losses in the UFC.
This one has a McGregor TKO win in the first round written all over it.
Cerrone doesn’t do as well against pressure fighters like the previously mentioned Diaz and Ferguson and Conor loves to move forward, slip, and rip.
That is a concern, though. Slipping punches in MMA is a bit overrated or at least, you need to know your opponent.
Against Eddie Alvarez, who is primarily a boxer, he was free.
When fighting maybe the best head kicker in the history of mixed martial arts outside of Cro Cop, one must exercise extreme caution when slipping to the outside of a punch because it could very easily be a set up to get you moving your dome directly into the path of a heavy and sharp tibia.
C Mac is as intelligent of a fighter as we have ever seen, though, so I expect him to be first in the exchanges.
Conor loves to counter punch but he will have a tremendous hand speed advantage that should be more than enough to land cleanly on “The Donald”.
Let’s stick with the over/under bet again here but which way?
As a rule, I try to stick with the over bets because they hit much more often than the under does and we have been quite successful in the past.
Then again, I believe Conor knows he is going to need the Octagon time to knock off the rust before he gets in there with better competition in his next few bouts.
It’s just 7 and a half minutes. It’ll be a long 7:30, for sure, but let’s go with the over 1.5 for nearly even money.
There you have it, guys. Over, over, and over…
This has been a highly publicized event and this much exposure has brought plenty of experts to the table and they have bet the lines outside of a valuable range.
I think Grasso was (+150) before. That would have been very nice!
Ferreira has also had a lot of dough come in on him and as we mentioned a minute ago, McGregor’s odds have skyrocketed appropriately.
Something tells me C-Mac has some new wrinkles in his game he would like to showcase and Cowboy knows the longer the fight goes, the better chance he has at winning.
Cerrone may be the best striker McGregor has ever faced in there outside of the regrettable bum-rushing Jose Aldo we saw a few years ago.
The prelims have better value for betting but everyone from serious gamblers to casual fans wants some action on this main event. I gave you guys the best value I could.
Bet first, bet hard, bet fast, and bet last! Or is it hit first…
Either way, enjoy this weekend’s festivities from the Las Vegas Strip and hopefully, we can go 3-0!