The return of Conor “Notorious’ McGregor from a 15-month layoff to battle Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas is more than a battle of high-profile performers, ranked number four and five in the lightweight division.
There are enough questions regarding each fighter — McGregor’s layoff and Cerrone’s history of taxing bouts — to open significant betting variables. Does McGregor, who claims he will make $80 million on this fight because of incentives, still have the hunger? He lost his last bout and has lucrative businesses outside of UFC. Cerrone lost his last two fights but has battled five times during McGregor’s layoff.
To commemorate their scheduled five-round bout, here are five of the best ways to bet UFC 246. This outlook represents methods and strategy, even more than particular wagers, because there are hundreds of props at major betting operators like DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM and PointsBet.
The gambling approach to The McGregor vs. Cowboy Fight
Round One: Forget the moneyline for McGregor backers. He is laying in the vicinity of +300 (3-to-1) at the books. Wagering $300 to win $100? Not sexy. There are fertile opportunities for him in the prop field.
Round Two: Absolutely play the win line if you like Cerrone, at returns averaging roughly +250. Props are fine to supplement, but this is like taking the win line at the Kentucky Derby on a 5-2 pick. If you like this, hit the win-line hard and place less on the props (which would resemble the exactas and trifectas of the horse-racing world). Nothing frustrates a bettor more than having the right selection, but betting it incorrectly.
Round Three: Narrow the focus. Books have an enticing prop menu. But you can’t get lost in them, diverting the bankroll. There are numerous victory and method props, over/under and knockout rounds, even the unlikely draw. But they can overlap. Know where you have aimed the money.
Round Four: Determine your operation. A safe build-out can start from picking two-round group packages for when the bout ends. A rounds bet or method prop can be added. Or do you want to go for a slam, betting one prop heavy in search of the big score? Know how much of the landscape you want to travel.
Round Five: The accent piece. Seek a strange angle and place a small bet. McGregor has only lost twice in the UFC. But both times were by submission. Including his last fight. There are long odds on a submission finish in this fight because both fighters are excellent strikers. That’s why the submission prop pays well.
Honorable Mention: Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington fight on the undercard in a rematch of a previous split decision victory by Holm. The books back a long battle, probably a decision. Any fighter on the moneyline at DraftKings (at -137 for Holm, + 110 for Pennington) is not a bad play. Odds of a knockout are in the range of +1000 (10-to-1) on both sides.
Odds on UFC 246
The Line: McGregor -315, Cerrone +250
The over-under for the fight is 1.5 rounds, which is also reflected in the range-of-finish props. Bettors lay +150 if the fight ends inside of two rounds. The payout is +375 for rounds 3-4 and a draw is +5000.
Extending to individual fighters, McGregor’s winning rounds range from +175 in round one to +2500 in the fifth. Cerrone also pays 25-1 in round 5 but would return 11-1 for a first-round victory. Translation: McGregor will try to and win early and if Cerrone turns the tables, it will pay handsomely.
A McGregor win inside of two rounds is -115 but a KO in round two pays +650. Victory for him in the round 3-4 package is worth +650, but Round 3 is +1500 and Round 4 is +1900.
For Cerrone backers, individual rounds knockouts return from 22-1-50-1 from rounds 1-5. Submissions return 22-1 to 40-1, depending upon the round.
The line: McGregor -290, Cerrone +220
The prop line suggests an early McGregor knockout, at -210.
McGregor on points is +1000 and a submission is +3200. Cerrone returns +700 for a knockout, +950 for a decision and +700 for a submission.
McGregor’s range of knockout victories returns +175 for Round 1 up to +2900 for Round 5. Cerrone’s payouts are +2400 for the opening round and +5500 for a stoppage in Round 5. Cerrone also pays +5500 for a submission triumph in Round 5.
Will the fight go the distance? Yes is +440 and the bettor would not have to sweat out who wins.
The line: McGregor -334, Cerrone +260
McGregor’s victory spectrum ranges from +170 in Round 1 to +2200 in the fifth.
Cerrone has a similar payout, +2500, for a round-five win. The major difference between them is early, where Cerrone would return +1100 for a first-round victory.
This is a unique menu because it offers half-rounds. The over-under hits the even-money area at 1.5 rounds. That would pay +100 for the over and -121 for the under.
As the rounds progress, the expected stoppage changes the numbers to over 2.5 rounds at +187 and under at -250. Want to try 3.5 rounds? That’s +240 for the over and -358 for the under. Over 4.5 rounds and a full fight exceed +400 on the over and -500 and -589 on the under. Translation: the appeal for the under dies after the first round.
The line: McGregor -286, Cerrone +230
Some sweet spots for McGregor are specific round props. McGregor knockout victories in Round 3 (+ 750) and Round 4 (+1200) provide a 10-minute window for McGregor to provide a good return. Putting money on EACH of the rounds and taking a smaller payout is a reasonable way to go for anyone believing in a mid-rounds stoppage for McGregor.
Cerrone backers would receive +750 for a knockout win, +500 for a submission and +950 for a points verdict. Cowboy bettors would score a boatload, +8000, should Cerrone submit McGregor during the fifth round.
This article was originally posted Tuesday. Odds are subject to change. For current odds, click the sportsbook links above.