At UFC 246 next weekend in Las Vegas, former lightweight and featherweight champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor – snaps a hiatus from the Octagon, dating back to his October 2018 defeat to arch-foe, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
January 18th. marks the beginning of McGregor’s “season“. It’s a return to welterweight waters for the Dubliner, as he meets with long-time UFC standout, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. It’s a bout which has been overdue for a considerable length of time – and an opponent the Crumlin born counter-striker has some noted “history” with, according to McGregor. In a recent interview with ESPN contributor, Ariel Helwani, McGregor opened up regarding his decision to finally clash with Cerrone.
“Well, I said I’d fight him (Donald Cerrone) right?” McGregor told Helwani. “I mean me and Donald (Cerrone) have had a history, a long history. Well, not a long history, but we’ve had a history. It’s an exciting bout, It’s a fan-friendly bout, It’s a fight that excites me. And, it’s a fight that I said I would partake. I appreciate Donald I have to say. He’s fought a lot of times, and since the last time I saw him, I saw him at that (José) Aldo press conference many, many years ago. He’s gone on and fought so many times, he’s also a family man, with his grandmother and these things. I appreciate that, and I respect that. And, I also respect the method he went about (promoting the fight) with the Proper whiskey.
So much work goes into these things and to see that big of respect, I appreciate that. I look forward to having a good bout, and I know you’re (Ariel Helwani) not interested in that, and I know you said “that was the wrong way (to go about it)”, but for me, in this time of my life, that is the right way to go about it, especially now. I’m happy to come back, and have my comeback fight, in the beginning of my season against, Donald, and I look forward to it. It’s going to be a good night, and I’m going to shine here on January 18th. I’m going to create magic inside the Octagon like I have done many times before, but this is going to be something special.”
With those appreciative words for Cerrone, the Dubliner also spoke of his interest in the welterweight division, including the title picture which seems to develop as each event enters and leaves town.
“I’m under-weight right now so. I’m under-weight, I’d say, 160 (pounds) and a bit,” McGregor said. “I just don’t think he looks well at 55 (155-pounds). He’s a 170 (pound) fighter. Why would I want him to suffer? I’d beat him at any weight. I’d beat him if I had the flu. I just want to focus on my training and keep me sharp, I don’t want to cut, and then build, and then cut. I’m happy where I’m at, And, also 170 is a (sic) exciting one for me. I like 170. I like what’s going on in the 170-pound division at the minute. You’ve got Jorge (Masvidal) with that belt (BMF championship). You’ve got the other guys (Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington) fighting for the belt. I like all what’s (sic) going on at 170, and I feel good at 170. I feel energetic, It’s what I weigh, and that’s it. It opens up so many more options.”
With the apparent new-found appeal of a welterweight excursion, Ariel Helwani posed the question if McGregor was finished competing in the lightweight division.
“No, I’m not finished at 155, no way,” McGregor said. “I could make 155 for this fight no problem. but I just want to go in fresh, as it is. Let the fight play as it is, and then open up all my options.”
With eyes still firmly planted on the task of overcoming Cerrone at UFC 246, McGregor has juggled the possibility of facing fellow lightweight contender, Justin Gaethje, in potentially a “quick turnaround“ bout after his welterweight pairing with ‘Cowboy’.