‘Notorious’ returns to the octagon after 15 months away to headline UFC 246 in Las Vegas on Saturday and has promised a knockout victory that could propel him towards a host of box office fights in 2020.
McGregor has not won a fight since his 2016 lightweight championship victory over Eddie Alvarez, however, falling short in his move into boxing against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 before his harrowing submission defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.
36-year-old fight veteran Cerrone hopes to upset the odds and add to that that losing streak in Las Vegas. While he still considers McGregor a strong favourite, Pickett believes his recent record could weigh in his mind heading into fight night.
Pickett told Standard Sport: “It’s a tricky fight and he has lost his last two - he cannot afford to lose this fight. You never go into a fight thinking you are going to lose but it has got to be on his mind a little bit. He needs to win this.
"He is always going to be a mega superstar no matter what he does. But to keep this hype train going he needs to beat someone like Donald Cerrone.”
Pickett however doesn’t believe McGregor will be hamstrung by ring rust and with so much on the line, believes the Dubliner has the mental strength to embrace the pressure and secure victory.
“Ring rust is a factor if you make it a factor. It’s all mental. If you spend too much time thinking about it, it can affect you. Ring rust is mental and someone who is as strong mentally as Conor won’t be affected by it.
“Conor's biggest attribute is that he has a very strong mind. He is an incredible athlete but has a strong demeanour and carries himself in a way that spreads confidence. He has been away a long time. But he owns that octagon, for him, it’s coming home, he loves the environment.”
Watch UFC® 246: McGREGOR vs. COWBOY live on BT Sport Box Office from 3:00am GMT with the early prelims exclusively live on UFC FIGHT PASS from 11:15pm. GMT