Last week, Conor McGregor’s return to the UFC was made official when it was announced he would be fighting Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 in January. It was a long road to get to this point against Cerrone, as negotiations had been rumored for this match dating all the way back to early 2019. But though the road was long to get McGregor back into the cage, it may be leading to a much more exciting future.
McGregor used to be among the most active fighters in the UFC, but as his star power rose, “Notorious” fights became a much rarer commodity. Since winning the lightweight title at UFC 205 in 2016, McGregor has fought MMA just one time, his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in 2018 (not counting his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017). But according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, McGregor wants to get back to being much more active.
”Okay, so he has laid out this plan that he wants to fight three times next year,” Helwani said. “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. We 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.”
McGregor has not had a great run of things recently. In the last 24 months McGregor has been involved in numerous legal disputes as well as reportedly being under investigation for two separate cases of sexual assault. On top of that, after an unparalleled rise to the top of the sport, McGregor has gone 2-2 in his last four fights, including being thoroughly dominated by Nurmagomedov. Such was the one-sided nature of the loss that even McGregor with all his star power couldn’t rightly get an immediate rematch, as he did with Nate Diaz. Instead, McGregor is having to take at least one other fight before he can shoot for another go at the UFC lightweight champion, and according to Helwani, he’s already planning for a second fight after Cerrone so he can cement his claim for a title shot at the end of the year.
“He wants to fight January 18th – in fact, he wanted to fight in December but the UFC didn’t give him that opportunity,” Helwani said. “So he wanted to fight at the beginning of the year, then he wants to return towards spring/summer, maybe fight Jorge Masvidal or Nathan Diaz – perhaps that’s why this fight is happening at 170, to prove that he can hang with the welterweights. Then he wants to fight at the end of the year against Khabib Nurmagomedov, if he is still the champion, in Moscow. He really wants to right that wrong… The last fight he got submitted, he wants to right that wrong so he’s hoping that he can win those two fights, get the title fight, and then shut everyone up.”
Those are lofty goals for McGregor but ones that are easy to envision happening should he get back to his winning ways. Masvidal has already shown a great deal of interest in fight McGregor, even being willing to pass up a welterweight title shot to do so. Then again, if Tony Ferguson defeated Khabib Nurmagomedov when those two fight for the lightweight title in April, perhaps McGregor won’t have to wait until the end of the year to get a title shot.
Official. Tony Ferguson inks his contract, fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov official for UFC event on April 18.
Timeline: Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski.
Fighters pick fights at UFC 245.
ONE with a tribute to Ben Askren.
Overeem vs. Arlovski.
Severe MMA. Discussing the state of the UFC as 2019 winds down.
The MMA Depressed-Us. Looking back at some of the worst fights in UFC history.
Campbell putting Alberto del Rio at number three and Tito at number one is PEAK Campbell.
Some fighters over 40 are definitely still killers. My P4P list. 1. Tito Ortiz
2. Daniel Cormier
3. Alberto Rodríguez
4. Urijah Faber
5. Demian Maia
6. Yoel Romero
7. Fabricio Werdum
8. Anderson Silva
9. Chael Sonnen
10. Andrei Arlovski
— Campbell McLaren (@campbellcombate) December 1, 2019
Tony getting ready.
This weekend he gets his shot.
Henry already picking a fight with Aldo.
2020 I will be a world champion
— Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) December 1, 2019
Zabit responds to criticism of his cardio.
That’s a pretty terrible day.
Talk to you guys later.. had a long day. Not only did I have to bury my grandfather today but the hearse wrecked into my parked car in the parking lot…
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) December 1, 2019
Also, Dustin keeping it real.
Aaron Chalmers (4-1) vs. Austin Clem (3-1); Bellator Dublin, Feb. 22.
Richie Smullen (5-1-1) vs. Ranjeet Baria (3-1); Bellator Dublin, Feb. 22.
Blaine O’Driscoll (7-3) vs. Ezzoubair Bouarsa (7-1); Bellator Dublin, Feb. 22.
Danni Neilan (1-0) vs. Chiara Penco (4-1); Bellator Dublin, Feb. 22.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
Over/Under 2.5 fights for Conor in 2020?
101 votes total Vote Now
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.