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Preview of UFC 246 main card fights in Las Vegas

Updated January 17, 2020 - 6:37 pm

A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 246 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:

Conor McGregor (21-4) vs. Donald Cerrone (36-13, 1 No Contest)

Class: Welterweight

Line: McGregor -330

Storyline: Cerrone has 17 career submissions and could have his clearest path to victory if he takes the fight to the ground. But he’s not likely to do it. He has said several times this week he fights to entertain and thinks fans want to see him engage in more of a standup fight with McGregor. That could increase the odds of McGregor picking up his first win since 2016. Almost everything McGregor does serves as a means to set up a left hand that is sharp and incredibly accurate. He no doubt will be looking to land it early and often against Cerrone, who has been doomed by slow starts in big events. McGregor has a track record of early knockouts, but said he wouldn’t mind a longer fight to build his endurance as he tries to get his career back on track.

Hill’s pick: McGregor by decision

Fang’s pick: Cerrone by third-round submission

Holly Holm (12-5) vs. Raquel Pennington (10-8)

Class: Women’s strawweight

Line: Holm -135

Storyline: Holm, 38, has lost five of her past seven fights, as the memory of the thrilling knockout of Ronda Rousey in Australia continues to fade. Holm has become more cautious with age, yet still has as much raw striking talent as anyone else in the division. She also has a split-decision win over Pennington when the former world boxing champion made her UFC debut in 2015. Pennington is coming off a split-decision win over Irene Aldana and insists she is finally ready to live up to her potential after enduring several injuries in the past few years. Several sportsbooks have reported sharp action on Pennington.

Hill’s pick: Holm by decision

Fang’s pick: Holm by second-round knockout

Aleksei Oleinik (57-12-1) vs. Maurice Greene (8-4)

Class: Heavyweight

Line: Greene -130

Storyline: Oleinik is one of the most accomplished grapplers in the heavyweight division, with 45 submission wins. “The Boa Constrictor” has flashed occasional power, but mostly uses his strikes to get in close range so he can drag his opponents to the ground and hunt for limbs and chokes. Greene is still trying to harness his raw abilities. The former contestant on “The Ultimate Fighter” won his first three UFC fights before getting knocked out by Sergei Pavlovich in October. He also has solid submission skills, but there is little reason to explore that aspect of his game against Oleinik.

Hill’s pick: Greene by second-round knockout

Fang’s pick: Oleinik by third-round knockout

Brian Kelleher (19-10) vs. Ode Osbourne (7-2)

Class: Bantamweight

Line: Osbourne -140

Storyline: Osbourne and Kelleher got a last-minute boost into the spotlight of a McGregor pay-per-view card when they were moved to the main card Friday after Alexa Grasso missed weight and her fight against Claudia Gadelha was canceled. It’s a particularly big spot for Kelleher, who is coming off back-to-back stoppage losses and has been out for more than a year because of injury. Osbourne is making his UFC debut after winning a contract with a victory on “Dana White’s Contender Series.” He will provide the flash to contrast Kelleher’s grittiness.

Hill’s pick: Kelleher by decision

Fang’s pick: Osbourne by second-round knockout

Anthony Pettis (22-9) vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (16-2)

Class: Lightweight

Line: Ferreira -250

Storyline: If Pettis continues the trend of alternating wins and losses in his past eight fights, he is due for a win. But it won’t be easy against Ferreira, a winner of five straight seeking to put a victory over a former lightweight champion on his resume. The biggest key will be how much pressure Ferreira can put on Pettis. Ferreira is capable of controlling the fight from top position if he can get it there, but Pettis is one of the UFC’s most effective fighters when he finds room to operate. If Ferreira can’t get him to the mat, he needs to at least stay in tight on Pettis to limit his offense.

Hill’s pick: Ferreira by second-round knockout

Fang’s pick: Ferreira by decision

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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