UFC superstar Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited comeback to the cage against Donald Cerrone on January 18 and has promised his supporters that they can expect fireworks from the moment he sets foot in the Octagon.
McGregor will begin what he calls a three-fight ‘season’ in 2020 in the UFC headliner against veteran fighter Cerrone at UFC 246 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, setting the table for a year in which he has prophesied bouts against Jorge Masvidal and a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Before those potential challenges, McGregor must first claim his first UFC win since late 2016 when he takes on the American in a welterweight contest – but why him?
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“I said I’d fight him, right?” McGregor told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “Me and Donald have had a history, a long history – well not a long history – but we’ve had a history. It’s an exciting bout. It’s a fan-friendly bout. It’s a fight that excites me and it’s a fight that I said I’d partake [in].
“I appreciate Donald, I have to say. He’s fought a lot of times since the last time I saw him. I saw him at that Aldo press conference many, many years ago. He’s gone on and fought so many times. He’s also a family man with his grandmother and these things, I appreciate that and I respect that.”
McGregor also noted Cerrone for the manner in which he hinted that he may be the next opponent for the Irishman after he posted a picture of a bottle of Budweiser alongside a bottle of McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey.
“I also respect the method he went about, with the Proper Whiskey, so much work goes into these things and to see that bit of respect – I appreciate that.”
This fight is notable for not containing much of the same bluster that accompanies many a McGregor fight, and certainly his last one. Despite being known as one of the best trash-talkers in the business, McGregor has remained mostly tight-lipped this time around.
“For me, in this time in my life, that is the right way to go about it,” McGregor, who is a father of two, said. “Especially now. I’m happy to come back and have my comeback fight and the beginning of my season against Donald and I look forward to it. It’s going to be a good night and I’m going to shine here on January 18th. I’m going to create magic in the Octagon, like I have done many times before.
“But this is going to be something special.”
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As for the reason for the fight taking place at welterweight and not the 155-pound division, in which McGregor has won a world title and in which Cerrone has been competing for the majority of his career, McGregor says it’s just easier for both fighters this way.
“I just don’t think he looks well at 155. He’s a 170 fighter. I’d beat him at any weight. I’d beat him if I had the flu,” he said.
“I’m happy where I’m at. 170 is an exciting one for me. I like 170, I like what’s going on in the 170 division at the minute. You’ve got Jorge with that belt, you’ve got the other guys fighting for the belt.
“I just want to go in there, let the fight play as it is and then open up all my options.”