After a long negotiation period where it seemed the fight might never happen, Conor McGregor’s UFC return is confirmed, as he’ll face Cowboy Cerrone at UFC 246.
It’s a done deal. Conor McGregor, unarguably the biggest star the sport of MMA has ever seen, is headed back to the octagon this January, opposite Cowboy Cerrone in the UFC 246 main event.
On Thursday, ESPN confirmed that McGregor will in fact return to the cage on January 18, 2020. The news was initially reported by journalist Chris Prawdzik. A date previously floated by ‘Mystic Mac,’ a card in Las Vegas on that date had been building, but was not officially announced by the UFC. That changed Thursday, as UFC President Dana White confirmed to ESPN that McGregor had signed his contract, for what will now officially be UFC 246. Cerrone has also reportedly signed off.
McGregor, the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, rose through the ranks knocking out the likes of Dustin Poirer, Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, and Eddie Alvarez, and along the way became the biggest star of all time by way of his ruthless trash-talking, and fun fighting style. However, following his victory over Eddie Alvarez to become the lightweight champion, McGregor took an extended absence from the cage. Money, and a shot at a boxing mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather, instead became his focus.
In the 2017 match against Mayweather, despite early success, McGregor would be TKO’d in the 10th round. Following that, he engaged in a war of words with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The rivalry would come to a head at UFC 229, where McGregor lost to the new lightweight champ Khabib. McGregor was submitted in the fourth round by ‘The Eagle,’ though what is most remembered about the fight is Khabib flying out of the octagon following the win to attack McGregor’s corner. The near-riot that ensued saw the champion suspended nine months, and hit with a hefty fine, while McGregor, who ended up in a confrontation with several of Nurmagomedov’s teammates, was forced to sit out a shorter stretch.
McGregor talked plenty about a return to the UFC in 2019, however, it wouldn’t come to fruition. McGregor was linked multiple times to a fight with Donald Cerrone throughout the year, but no bout would materialize, in part due to a hand injury suffered by McGregor. Instead, he remained in the news thanks to multiple scandals outside the cage, including assault and rape accusations, the latter of which have yet to result in any charge against the UFC star.
Cerrone and McGregor do have a history, with the two had exchanging barbs at a UFC press conference years ago. They’ve also gone back-and-forth on Twitter multiple times. All of which means there should be no shortage of trash talk heading into UFC 246 — though it’s unlikely to reach Khabib-McGregor levels.
It’s worth noting that McGregor vs. Cerrone will take place at welterweight, where both Cerrone and McGregor have history.
Cerrone, like Conor McGregor, will enter the fight off a loss. He is, in fact, coming off back-to-back knockout losses to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. However, ‘Cowboy’ remains ranked number five in the UFC’s lightweight division and prior to his current losing streak looked spectacular in wins over Al Iaquinta, Alexander Hernandez, and Mike Perry. Incredibly, UFC 246 will mark the first pay-per-view main event for Cerrone, who is the UFC’s leader in victories.