Expect the UFC 246 main event to be bloody — but don’t expect any bad blood.
Lest there be any confusion, the UFC 246 press conference made it clear: this weekend’s PPV event, the first UFC card of 2020, is very much about Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone.
No one else. Not really. After all, no one else graced the stage Wednesday, aside from UFC President Dana White, whose presence was barely required. McGregor was on his best behavior. The media savvy Cowboy, meanwhile, was nothing if not gracious. Both men complimented each other several times.
Bad blood was nowhere to be found. Controversy? Forget it.
More dubious MMA fans may question how well McGregor can sell a PPV without his usual antics. Time will tell, but chances are his name value alone is enough to float at least a card or two without a luggage cart penetrating a bus window.
If you ask McGregor — and he was asked Wednesday — he’ll tell you that he’s the same man he always was. “I have not changed too much to be honest,” the Irish star claimed. “I am who I am, I’ve always been. I don’t think I’ve changed too much throughout.”
“Granted different opponetns, different circumstances,” he allowed. No intense rivalry with a fighter like Khabib Nurmagomedov, in other words.
“I’m in a position right now where I’m very, very excited to be here,” he added. “And I’m very eager to perform for the fans on January 18. I’ve got a solid opponent in front of me, a veteran of the game. I’m just in a good spot, and that’s it. I don’t think I’ve changed or altered. I’m just committed, I’m focused, and happy to be here. Mostly like I always have been.”
Mostly. That last part seems like more of an understatement, although perhaps not. McGregor’s past few years have been a roller coaster ride, one where he became better known for scandals outside the octagon than victories in it. Yet McGregor has always been at his best when fighting. It’s everything else that seemed to be the problem.
It stands to reason, then, that he’d reclaim happiness by returning to the sport that made him the star he is today.
Opponent seems to be key as well. As he said, different opponents, different circumstances. McGregor and Cerrone were affable throughout the press conference Wednesday. You could almost see them turning up in a buddy cop flick down the road.
The former double-champ may have put it best when he said “although there will be blood spilled on January 18, it will not be bad blood.” This is just business. That will hopefully be enough for fans. In the end, it will have to be.