The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 246 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
After not competing for more than 15 months, former two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Conor McGregor stepped back into the Octagon to face decorated veteran Donald Cerrone in the UFC 246 main event on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The anticipated showdown between two iconic fighters did not last long, as the Irishman needed just 40 seconds to finish off Cerrone. McGregor stormed out, fired a left hand and allowed himself to be drawn into the clinch. It was a poor choice by Cerrone, who was met with four damaging shoulder strikes to the face that drew blood from his nose and resulted in significant swelling below his left eye.
“You know how they say I just have a left hand? Now they will have to say I have a left shoulder, as well—a left hand and a left shoulder,” McGregor said. “The so-called experts of the game when they are breaking down my skill set say that I’m just a fighter with a left hand, which is highly disrespectful and uneducated.”
While “Cowboy” attempted to recover from the shoulder strikes, McGregor gave him a taste of his own medicine by staggering Cerrone with a head kick. He then drove him to the mat with a flying knee and follow-up punches before unleashing a volley of ground strikes to force referee Herb Dean to act.
“I knew that Donald had the most head kick knockouts in UFC history,” McGregor said. “I was saying to [ESPN reporter] Megan [Olivi] backstage that that was the equivalent of a world title to me, to have a record like that, the most head kick knockouts. I knew he was planning on knocking me out with it.”
The fight took place at 170 pounds, a weight class above McGregor’s most recent division. UFC President Dana White told reporters in the past that he did not want the Irishman to return to the division in which he faced Nate Diaz twice. White admitted he thought McGregor was too small for the welterweight class and believed an opponent like Jorge Masvidal was too big for him. He has since changed his tune.
“I was blown away,” White said. “I think he looked unbelievable. You won’t hear another peep from me about him fighting at 170. There are always critics, and there is always somebody that has an opinion. People are going to say that ‘Cowboy’ was shot, which is total bulls---. Conor McGregor came out and looked fast, he hit hard, he had a game plan and he finished a real tough kid that came to win.”
Afterward, the media hounded White and McGregor about what direction they would take next. They were asked about Masvidal, Tony Ferguson, current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, reigning welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. White indicated that a rematch with Nurmagomedov “makes sense,” and while the Irishman entertained questions about the possibilities, he did not single out anyone.
“The who doesn’t matter to me right now,” he said. “I’m looking at dates now. I know March was there. I am going to have a look at the calendar and see where we are at.”