Conor McGregor stopped Donald Cerrone with a head kick and punches 40 seconds into the first round at UFC 246 on Saturday night, announcing his return to mixed martial arts with his first victory since 2016.
UFC 246: Conor McGregor destroys Donald Cerrone by first-round TKO – live!
The Irish former two-division champion came out of a three-year stretch of relative inactivity and outside-the-cage troubles with a performance that echoed his greatest fights during his unparalleled rise.
After bloodying Cerrone’s nose with his first punch, McGregor (22-4) then floored Cerrone (36-14) only 20 seconds into the bout with a perfectly placed left kick to the head. He mercilessly finished on the ground to the delight of a sellout crowd of 19,040 at T-Mobile Arena.
“I feel really good, and I came out of here unscathed,” McGregor said. “I’m in shape. We’ve got work to do to get back to where I was.”
McGregor’s hand hadn’t been raised in victory since November 2016, when he stopped lightweight Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts simultaneously. With his fame and fortune multiplying, McGregor fought only his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, and he lost a one-sided UFC bout to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in late 2018.
After a year spent out of competition and in repeated trouble with the law, McGregor got back into training and vowed to return to elite form. This dramatic victory over Cerrone indicated he’s well on his way, and McGregor has vowed to fight multiple times in 2020.
Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and veteran brawler Jorge Masvidal watched UFC 246 from cageside. Either man could be McGregor’s next opponent.
“Any one of these mouthy fools can get it,” McGregor yelled into the microphone. “Every single one of them can get it. It does not matter. I’m back and I’m ready.”
Cerrone is the winningest fighter in UFC history with 23 victories, a mark that reflects both his durability and commitment to an uncommonly busy schedule. Cerrone, who also holds the UFC record with 16 stoppage wins, had fought a whopping 11 times since McGregor’s win over Alvarez, and he was in the cage for the 15th time since he lost his only UFC title shot in December 2015.
Credit: The Guardian