Conor McGregor returned to action on Saturday night in Las Vegas, and the Irish superstar didn’t disappoint.
It had been 38 months since “Notorious” McGregor had won a fight inside the Octagon. McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016 to become the first UFC fighter ever to hold championships in two divisions simultaneously.
But the world’s most popular MMA fighter suffered two straight losses after that.
Floyd Mayweather defeated McGregor in a boxing ring in August 2017 via 10th round knockout. Then Khabib Nurmagomedov beat McGregor via fourth-round submission at UFC 229 in October 2018.
Was Conor Still Conor?
So plenty of people were wondering how the 31-year-old from Dublin would fare against popular American contender Donald Cerrone in a welterweight contest at UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena.
Sure, Cerrone had lost two straight fights entering the evening, but those losses came at the hands of two of the best lightweights currently in the UFC, Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
McGregor was once easily on the same level as those two fighters, but how would he look so far removed from being at the top of the sport back in 2016? Would he ever be the same amazing fighter he was at his peak? Or had McGregor seen his best days come and go?
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Besides Cerrone already held the UFC records for total wins, finishes and bonuses. Maybe the fighter was on his way to adding to that list against McGregor.
Cerrone wasn’t a nobody. He was a real contender. He had accomplished some seriously amazing feats. He was exactly the type of fighter that could test McGregor to his limits. If McGregor was done as an elite competitor, Cerrone would show us.
But that’s not what happened.
McGregor Wrecked Cerrone Fast
McGregor proved to be too much for the 36-year-old from Denver right from the start.
McGregor threw and missed a huge left hand to begin the fight. Cerrone ducked under it and fell into McGregor’s clinch. Was Cerrone’s assumed grappling advantage about to come into play? Was this the American’s plan all along?
McGregor landed four hard shoulders to Cerrone’s face that appeared to bloody and break his nose. It was an uncommon move performed by an uncommon fighter and one that Cerrone didn’t seem to be prepared to defend.
In fact, during the post-fight interview with ESPN’s Joe Rogan, the fighter admitted eating all those shoulders from McGregor was a shocking experience.
“I’d never seen anything like that,” Cerrone said.
The fight had just started, but the end was near.
McGregor let go of the clinch and soon landed a clean kick to Cerrone’s head.
Let that sink in for a minute. McGregor sent Cerrone down to the ground using one of Cerrone’s own moves.
He followed it with several hard left hands to the felled Cerrone, then pummelled him from the top until the referee was forced to stop the fight.
Another Historical Achievement for McGregor
That was it.
McGregor was back at the top of the sport, scoring a dominant first-round knockout against one of the toughest competitors the UFC had to offer. He had done it in thrilling fashion, and he looked as good or better than he had ever looked before.
And on top of all that? McGregor again became the first fighter in history to do something amazing in the UFC.
“You know I made history here tonight,” said McGregor. “I’m the first fighter in UFC history to secure a knockout victory at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight. I’m very, very happy. I’m very proud.”
McGregor is back at full force, and the UFC might never be the same again. More huge fights loom for the record-breaking superstar MMA fighter from Dublin, and who knows what history-making event he might participate in next?