Conor McGregor is back!
It took all of 40 seconds for the UFC’s first dual-division champion to prove his worth as the biggest superstar in all of combat sports.
McGregor had been out of the Octagon for more than a year prior to this fight. He lost to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov the last time he fought. Everyone wondered if the ring rust had set in or if we would see the Irishman rebound to his former glory.
Cowboy entered the cage on Saturday night on the heels of back-to-back losses to Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson. A win over a superstar the likes of McGregor could only propel his career to even loftier heights and perhaps put him on the fast track back to title contention.
As soon as the round started, so did McGregor. He stormed across the cage, missing with a wild left hand, but grazed Cerrone with a knee to the face as he ducked the punch. McGregor then clinched and nailed Cerrone with several shoulder punches, one of which may have broken Cerrone’s nose.
“I change levels with that and come up into it, so it’s a good shot,” McGregor said after the fight, confirming that it was a maneuver he had been working on in the gym.
Cowboy backed away, but McGregor was relentless, landing a head kick that staggered his prey before landing a thunderous left hand that had Cowboy crouching. The Irishman kept dropping punches and elbows as Cerrone hit the canvas. He continued, relentless, until referee Herb Dean could only call a halt to the beating.
“Made history here tonight. I’m the first fighter in UFC history to secure knockout victories in three divisions. I’m very proud of that,” McGregor said after the fight before taking a shot at the UFC for stripping him of his championship belts in the past.
“They can strip fighters… but they can’t give knockout victories across multiple division. There you go, etch my name in history again.”
McGregor was certainly adamant about proclaiming his return to the top of the heap, but admitted that he doesn’t feel he’s back to full form.
“I like this weight division. I feel really good. I still got work to do to get back to where I was,” he said. “Every one of these fools can come and get it!”
A bit shell-shocked, Cowboy of course couldn’t help but give McGregor his due.
“I never seen anything like (those shoulder punches). It caught me way off guard. I got my ass whipped early,” he admitted after receiving a hug from his grandma, who had joined him in the Octagon.
There had been little to no animosity between the two leading up to their UFC 246 main event. McGregor showed that again after the fight, waiting for Cowboy to finish his interview before shaking his hand and then giving a warm embrace to Cerrone’s grandma.