UFC President Dana White, has dropped the biggest hint yet, that Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will welcome former two-weight world champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor back to the sport on January 18th. McGregor announced at a recent press event during a tour of Russia and Ukraine, how he would be returning to active-competition on January 18th. in Las Vegas, but elected against naming his opponent. ESPN staff writer Ariel Helwani then revealed how both Justin Gaethje and Donald Cerrone were two names floated around as possible opponents for McGregor, before confirming how ‘Cowboy’ was the frontrunner for the clash.
Speaking with TMZ recently, White told how details still had to be thrashed out regarding McGregor’s return, but how the promotion was planning on running McGregor vs. Cowboy as the event headliner for UFC 246. “We have nothing done. Nothing is even close to being done, so I hate to even talk about this stuff and say it because it might not happen. It might happen, but we’re looking at ‘Cowboy’ (Donald Cerrone). No. 3 (ranked contender) versus No. 5 (ranked contender) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.”
While White, certainly keeping his cards close to his chest, insisted the matchup was still some significant distance away from confirmation, we must remember the hasty announcement for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 229 last October. At a UFC 230 press conference last year, White was asked how close the organization was to finalizing the long-awaited clash of Khabib and McGregor, where he explained how they were still negotiating terms. Moments later at the end of the press event, White took to the mic to unveil a promo for the bout.
UFC 229 is also the last time we’ve seen former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor, feature in the Octagon, where the Crumlin native suffered just his second Octagon loss, as he fell victim to a neck crank at the hands of fierce rival Nurmagomedov. Colorado fan favorite Cerrone has run into two significant roadblocks in his last two meetings, in the form of the aforementioned Justin Gaethje, and number one contender Tony Ferguson as his latest siege for lightweight gold took a considerable hit.