Presented in partnership with UFC 246 on ESPN+
In case you haven’t heard, Conor McGregor is rather particular about whom he shares a fight card.
Rumored to have once turned down a bout just because it was in a co-main event role, McGregor, who headlines the UFC 246 Pay Per View main card on ESPN+, has helped his friends onto a few high profile cards to raise awareness. He’s also gone so far to state that he would not share Pay Per View cards with other champions, lest he would have to share the backend monetary points.
It’s a capitalistic idiosyncrasy at best, or rather a peculiarity, but McGregor has earned the right to call these kind of shots. There’s a bit of superstition at play too though, which makes it all the more intriguing that he’s opted to share the UFC 246 PPV main card with Holly Holm, a former UFC champion in her own right, who lost her title just moments before McGregor would taste defeat in the Octagon for the first time.
It’s a fun story. Take a walk with me, back to March 2016. It goes something like this…
Heading into UFC 196, there were no two hotter fighters in the UFC that Conor McGregor and Holly Holm, both newly crowned champions.
McGregor had just unified the featherweight title a few months before, knocking out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds. It was the culmination of the whole “Mystic Mac” era, and now McGregor would attempt to claim a second belt, stepping up to face then-lightweight champion Rafael “RDA: Dos Anjos.
Holm, who shocked the world a month prior to McGregor’s title coronation, was the new darling of the bantamweight division, having just knocked out Ronda Rousey, the baddest woman in the world. She was instantly propelled to superstardom, or at least the pinnacle of MMA stardom, and rather than wait for a lucrative rematch against Rousey, Holm opted to roll the dice against Miesha Tate.
Holm vs. Tate was slated as the UFC 196 co-main event, a fine penultimate bout to prep the crowd for McGregor vs. Dos Anjos. Only problem was, “RDA” would never make it to fight night.
By now, most MMA fans should know how that story ends. Nate Diaz steps in on two weeks notice, coming off the beach in Cabo to choke McGregor, a +400 favorite, out in the second round, kicking off one of the great rivalries in MMA history.
But, if you rewind the ESPN+ player a few more minutes, don’t forget that Holly Holm, who was a +300 favorite, suffered the same fate as McGregor at UFC 196. Actually, for Holm it was way worse…
Beating Tate up for the majority of the five round fight, Holly Holm used her striking and distance to tag up the opposition with kicks. It was a pretty clinical performance from Holm, who looked well on her way to her first UFC title defense, only Tate was having none of it, launching the late Hail Mary take down and back mount for the rear naked choke.
I can still see Holly Holm’s arms punching air as she momentarily lost consciousness.
It’s a long way back to UFC 246: McGregor vs. “Cowboy” from this point in the story, but the basic idea is that Holly Holm has been no good luck charm for Conor McGregor, so why, given his predilection for superstition, would he choose to fight on the same card as Holly Holm? I guess it’s because McGregor favors Holm’s Irish heritage (he totally said it in an interview back in 2015), but still, Conor? Why take the added gamble at this point in your career, when you need to win so badly?
Anyway, both Holm and McGregor have a chance to right the ship of the terrible night that was UFC 196 on January 18. Once again both favored, albeit by significantly less than last time around, McGregor and Holm have their tasks cut out for them. And to be fair, both Cerrone, and Raquel Pennington, who faces Holly Holm in the UFC 246 co-main event on ESPN+, are both pretty good plays at the sports book, but that’s a totally different topic that we’ll touch on next week.
Both fights are Pay Per View worthy, and close out a big night of fights at UFC 246.
The UFC 246 PPV main card on ESPN+ begins at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 18.
UFC 246 PPV main card (ESPN+)
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Green
Claudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso
Anthony Pettis vs. Diego Ferreira
UFC 246 Preliminaries (ESPN 2) 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
Maycee Barber vs. Roxanne Modafferi
Andre Fili vs. Sodiq Yusuff
Drew Dober vs. Nasrat Haqparast
UFC 246 Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass) 1:30 p.m. PST / 4:30 p.m. EST
Chas Skelly vs. Grant Dawson
Justn Ledet vs. Aleksa Camur
Tim Elliott vs. Askar Askarov
Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne
Sabina Mazo vs. J.J. Aldrich
*Fight Card Subject to Change
Dan Shapiro is a writer, editor, musician, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. In addition to covering some of the biggest fights in combat sports history, he’s also hunted down the world’s best sushi, skied the northern hemisphere in July, and chronicled Chinese underground music for publications like CNN, the New York Daily News, VICE, and Time Out. Dan also conjured up a ghost at the Chateau Marmont while out on assignment for RoadTrippers. Follow him on Twitter here.
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