Conor McGregor says his UFC 246 main event with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is the perfect fight he needs to set up a big comeback year in 2020 — one in which he is keeping a lot of options open.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani recently got the chance to sit down with McGregor, releasing a three-minute snippet of a longer interview that is set to be released on Monday, Jan. 13. As part of the preview, McGregor goes into detail as to why he chose to face Cerrone and why the bout will be conducted at welterweight.
The pair of UFC fan favorites and big names were in negotiations a little under a year ago after Cerrone scored wins over Mike Perry and Alexander Hernandez, with him using a Budweiser and McGregor’s Proper No. 12 to issue the challenge. Those negotiations fell through, however, and McGregor briefly announced retirement as he entered a 2019 that saw him investigated for two sexual assaults in Ireland, arrested in Miami for smashing a fan’s cell phone and admit to assaulting an elderly gentleman in a Dublin pub. The sexual assault claims have still not been resolved as of Jan. 11.
“Me and Donald have a history. Not a long history, but we’ve had a history,” McGregor said. “It’s an exciting bout. It’s a fan-friendly bout. It’s a fight that excites me.
“I appreciate Donald, I have to say. He’s fought a lot of times since the last time I saw him, at the 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 also appreciate his method he went about it, with the Proper whiskey. So much work goes into these things — to see that bit of respect, I appreciate that. I look forward to having a good bout.
“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 Jan. 18. I’m going to create magic inside the octagon, like I have done many times before. But this time it’s going to be something special.
“I know, I could have [made his life more difficult]. I just don’t think he looks well at 155. He’s a 170 fighter. I’d beat him at any weight. I’d beat him if I had the flu. I don’t need that. 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.”
McGregor added that despite previous his previous sentiments on a rematch with rival and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, a rematch promised to him by UFC President Dana White with a win, he’s keeping multiple doors open. In fact, McGregor says he’s just as interested at welterweight as lightweight, with a potential plan to become a champ-champ again using those two divisions’ titles.
“170 is an exciting one for me,” McGregor said. “I like 170. I like what’s going on in the 170 division at the minute. You’ve got Jorge with that (“BMF”) belt, you’ve got the other guys fighting for the belt. I like all of what’s 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, right?
No, I’m not done at 155. No way. I could make 155 for this fight, no problem. But I just want to go in fresh and ‘as it is.’ Let the fight play as it is, and then open up all of my options.
Quotes via MMAJunkie