UFC 246: Conor McGregor Says He’s Better Now Than in 2016

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Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor Credit: Elena Katretskaya

Ahead of his highly anticipated return at UFC 246, Conor McGregor addressed questions about his return, and says he’s a better fighter than he was at the peak of his UFC fame.

Conor McGregor returns to the octagon at UFC 246, and if you’ve listened to those around him, he’s looked to be in his best form ever. Whether or not you choose to believe those statements, McGregor himself says he’s back on track. He made the comments while speaking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, in a pre-recorded segment that aired on Monday’s episode of The MMA Show.

Alluding to things he “should have been doing and shouldn’t have been doing,” in the past, McGregor believes he has more passion, focus, and drive heading into UFC 246. As far as what got him back on track, the former two-division champ told Helwani that it wasn’t a single moment. “Life is a crazy roller coaster, especially this life. We have ups, we have downs. But I find I’m at my best when I must do something, and I know I must do it. And I do it. I execute it. That’s what I’m doing right now. That’s what I have done. The training has been phenomenal, my coaches, my team, everyone’s been in sync together. We’ve had a great camp, and we’re very, very happy here.”

“It’s good to be back in Las Vegas,” McGregor added. “I haven’t been in Vegas in a while.”

Later, he’d add that his belief [in himself] and confidence are high. “I feel like I want to say I’m back to who I was, but I’m even better than who I was. Everyone says ‘I miss the old Conor’ or the 2016 Conor, 2015 Conor or whatever it was.”

“But I feel I’m better than that now. I’m mature, I’ve come full circle. I’ve experienced everything in this business,” McGregor continued. “I’m just an experienced individual, I know what I need to do, and I’m doing it.” He also gave credit to his team at SBG Ireland. “I have a solid team of masters, tacticians behind me. I discuss my feelings and my thoughts with them, and we brainstorm. Communication is another thing, I wasn’t communicating with my team and my people. I was almost assuming that this should be understood, and now we’re just in sync. Conversations, constant conversations about techniques, about skills, about practices, and we’re all just rising and feeling the energy. It’s a beautiful time.”

Over the past few years, many have questioned whether McGregor would ever return to the sport that made him famous. Those questions first arose after his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, and returned with a vengeance following his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor himself, however, never questioned that he’d compete again.

“No. No. I was there, and my training was flawless,” he said to that question. “I was in phenomenal condition. I just had a few little slip-ups and they caused meβ€” I ended up in a damn cell that time. I just slipped off, it slipped away from me. But I was in a phenomenal place then also.”

The cell comment, of course, is a reference to his numerous legal troubles, including charges both at home and abroad.

“I knew I’d get back,” he reiterated. “Sometimes certain things need to happen for you to get things right. That’s what happened to be, and here I am.”

McGregor also pointed out the irony in being the man who never apologized, only to show contrition for some of his antics last year. “I went from apologizing to absolutely nobody, to apologizing to absolutely everybody!”

But is it sincere? “I’m as real as it gets,” he answered. “You’ll get what you see with me. If I’m in the wrong, I’m in the wrong. I’m real, it’s who I am.”

UFC 246 takes place this Saturday, January 18 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor faces off with Donald Cerrone in the welterweight main event.

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