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Odds climbing on Conor McGregor over Donald Cerrone

Conor McGregor is back, and so are his backers at Las Vegas sportsbooks.

McGregor, who hasn’t fought since 2018 and hasn’t won since 2016, has climbed to a minus 340 favorite over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone after opening as a minus 180 favorite in the main event of UFC 246 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

“The price has moved up considerably from where we first opened it. We certainly opened it up too low,” Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said. “We’ve had pretty good action both ways, but my guess is we’ll need Cerrone. We’ve got a lot of parlays going to McGregor.

“They’ll parlay the other favorites on the UFC card and the Chiefs and 49ers on the money line to McGregor.”

The largest wager on the fight at MGM Resorts as of Friday was a $14,000 bet to win $5,000 on McGregor. But The Mirage sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback said he expects to take bigger bets.

The Westgate took a $5,800 wager on McGregor at minus 240 in December and a $3,000 bet Sunday on Cerrone at plus 275.

“It’s setting up to be a great handle fight,” Murray said. “Great ticket count numbers on both fighters. There’s usually a good amount of ’dog support in these fights, too. I’m a little surprised how high the price got.

“I wouldn’t be in any rush to bet on Cowboy. He’s an all-time warrior, but he’s been in so many fights, he’s starting to show his age.”

Longtime MMA handicapper Lou Finocchiaro isn’t in a rush to bet on either fighter.

“Anything involved with McGregor is going to carry a little premium with it already,” said Finocchiaro (@GambLou). “And with that premium price on McGregor there’s a whole bunch of questions.”

Besides the long layoff, McGregor (21-4) is stepping up in weight from 155 pounds to 170, where he’s had two fights, both against Nate Diaz.

Cerrone (36-13, 1 no contest) has had 10 fights at 170 pounds, but has struggled against left-handers such as McGregor.

“Between big guys that bully him and left-handers, Cerrone has a little kryptonite. McGregor isn’t a big guy, but he is going to try to bully Cerrone,” Finocchiaro said. “There’s questions on both sides. How Cerrone is going to handle McGregor’s pressure and left hand and how (the 5-foot-9-inch) McGregor is going to handle the time off and a larger man in (the 6-1) Cerrone.”

Over 1½ rounds (-135)

Instead of choosing a side, Finocchiaro recommends a play on the fight to go over 1½ rounds (-135).

“There’s surely a correlation with McGregor and under and Cerrone and over,” Finocchiaro said. “I really believe Cerrone should not be discounted. McGregor might need a couple minutes to get his feet under him and find himself back. I think there’s great value in over 1½.

“My feeling is it won’t be as easy for McGregor as everybody thinks. This fight will go two rounds before there’s some kind of an outcome.”

Aleksei Oleinik (+110) over Maurice Greene

On the undercard, Finocchiaro likes Aleksei Oleinik (57-13-1), a plus 110 underdog against Maurice Greene (8-3-0) in a heavyweight match.

“A lot of people are on Green because he’s a big, strong knockout artist,” Finocchiaro said. “When you look in the octagon, it’s going to look like a complete mismatch. But the cagey Russian grappler is a more well-rounded fighter.”

Greene, 33, is 6-7, 265 pounds. Oleinik, 42, is 6-2, 240.

“(Oleinik) has a PhD in MMA,” Finocchiaro said. “I do believe he will tire the young kid out in the second or third round and submit him.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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