Conor McGregor is looking to turn in a magical performance next weekend at UFC 246 against Donald Cerrone and remind the fight game that he is one of the best competitors in the sport today.
"Notorious" will not only have to shake off a lengthy 15-month layoff in his return to action at UFC 246, but he'll be coming back as a welterweight. While McGregor understands that a 170-pound clash gives Cerrone a better chance of winning he wasn't ready to put extra stress on the main event affair.
“I know, I could have (made his life more difficult),” said McGregor in a recent interview with ESPN's Ariel Helwani (shown above). “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. I don’t need that. I just want to focus on my training and keep me sharp. I don’t want to cut and then build, and then cut. I’m happy where I’m at.”
Even though McGregor is a former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, the combat star is no stranger to competing as a welterweight. Remember, McGregor fought Nate Diaz twice at 170 pounds back in 2016, losing the first bout via submission and winning the rematch by majority decision.
So while “Notorious” may be better suited for competition at a lower weight he is excited about his options in the UFC’s stacked welterweight division moving forward.
“170 is an exciting one for me,” he explained. “I like 170. I like what’s going on in the 170 division at the minute. You’ve got Jorge with that (“BMF”) belt, you’ve got the other guys fighting for the belt. I like all of what’s going on at 170, and I feel good at 170. I feel energetic – it’s what I weigh and that’s it. It opens up so many more options, right?”
If McGregor is able to take out Cerrone at 170 pounds it will prove that he’s able to hang with some of the better welterweights in the game. But that doesn’t mean “Notorious” isn’t keeping his eye on other weight classes as well, like the lightweight division. After all, his potential rematch with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov resides at 155 pounds.
“No, I’m not done at 155. No way,” McGregor explained. “I could make 155 for this fight, no problem. But I just want to go in fresh and ‘as it is’. Let the fight play as it is, and then open up all of my options.”
Despite his decision to make his comeback fight at 170 pounds, why did McGregor pick Cerrone for his return? It all comes down to respect and mutual admiration, even for a controversial trash talker like McGregor.
“Well, I said I would fight him, right?” he explained. “Me and Donald have a history. 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.
“I appreciate Donald, I have to say. He’s fought a lot of times since the last time I saw him, at the 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 also appreciate his method he went about it, with the Proper whiskey. So much work goes into these things – to see that bit of respect, I appreciate that. I look forward to having a good bout.”
McGregor, 31, is entering arguably the most important moment of his storied MMA career. After rising to unfathomable stardom in just a matter of years “Notorious” was able to cash in big time and secure enough financial stability to never have to fight again. After that, things seemed to spiral a little out of control for the Irish star.
That said, McGregor still possesses the burning desire to compete and recapture any glory he has lost over the past few years amidst teased retirements, bus attacks, injuries, legal troubles, and his storied loss to Khabib. McGregor will look to start a new chapter next weekend at UFC 246 as he aims to turn in the most spectacular performance of his career.
“I’m happy to come back and have my comeback fight in the beginning of my season against Donald, and I look forward to it,” McGregor said. “It’s going to be a good night, and I’m going to shine here on Jan. 18. I’m going to create magic inside the octagon, like I have done many times before. But this time it’s going to be something special.”
UFC 246 will go down on Jan. 18 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with McGregor vs Cerrone serving as the main event.
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