Conor McGregor is returning to the Octagon at UFC 246 on January 18, and perhaps it will mark the start of a major comeback year in 2020.
This will mark McGregor’s first fight since getting submitted by nemesis Khabib Nurmagomedov in the fourth round of their lightweight title contest at UFC 229 in October 2018.
McGregor has not been a full-time UFC combatant since defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 as featherweight champion to win the lightweight title and become the first champ-champ in UFC history. McGregor, however, would be stripped of both belts without making a defense of either.
After pursuing a boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, McGregor had several run-ins with the law — ranging from his bus attack and interference with UFC 223 fight week, to the two sexual assaults he’s still under investigation for in Ireland, and from smashing a fan’s phone to assaulting a man in a Dublin bar.
While McGregor had announced intentions to come back on January 18, little details had come out about the matter before Thanksgiving, leading some to believe such a thing wasn’t going to happen. In fact, McGregor vs. Cerrone was negotiated and fell through once this year already.
But according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, during a recent appearance on SportsCenter, this fight may mark the beginning of bigger ideas for McGregor’s 2020 — potentially also including a fight with Jorge Masvidal or trilogy fight with Nate Diaz before a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov in Moscow, Russia.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 29, 2019
“Okay, so he has laid out this plan that he wants to fight three times next year,” Helwani said. “And he hasn’t done that in over three years as well, so it’s a pretty lofty goal. But he believes that when he is active, then he’s not getting distracted, he’s not getting in trouble. He’s very focused. And people are telling me right now that they haven’t seen him this focused in a very long time.
“You hear this a lot in the fight game, but he’s going to sleep early, he’s waking up early. He wants to prove to everyone that thinks he’s shot that they are wrong. So he wants to fight January 18th — in fact, he wanted to fight in December, but the UFC didn’t give him that opportunity. So he wanted to fight at the beginning of the year, then he wants to return towards spring [or] summer, maybe fight Jorge Masvidal or Nate Diaz.
“Perhaps that’s why this fight is happening at 170, to prove that he can hang with the welterweights. And then he wants to fight at the end of the year against Khabib Nurmagomedov, if he is still the champion, in Moscow. He wants to right that wrong.
He wants to win those two fights, get the title fight, and shut everyone up.
Quotes via MMA Mania