16 January 2020 20:35
LAS VEGAS — Not many UFC opponents have earned Conor McGregor's respect before a match. But Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone seems to have done that judging from their pre-fight press conference at the Palms on Wednesday. Unlike past events in which McGregor was notorious for shredding his opponents with his verbal taunts, he had nothing but kind words for Cerrone, who holds the record for most wins and most finishes in UFC history. The two will meet in Saturday's main event of UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena (10 pm; ESPN+ PPV). Cerrone was equally respectful, but the session didn't lack enthusiasm or fire.
McGregor (21-4) hasn't fought in 15 months, and Cerrone (36-13-1) has been searching for a mega-bout like this throughout his long career. Both are eager to get in the Octagon and get at it. "I'm looking forward to four or five rounds of battling with this dude," Cerrone, 36, said. "Conor is one of the last of a dying breed of fighters. It's going to be good to get in there with him.
I've got a solid opponent in front of me; a veteran of the game. The tone was different than it was nearly five years ago at UFC 194 when both were on the same card fighting different opponents. McGregor, then a featherweight, talked about moving up in weight. Cerrone suggested McGregor should keep his "little English a–" at featherweight. McGregor called Cerrone "too slow and too stiff." The level of civility was in sharp contrast to the presser before McGregor's last fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018 where McGregor took shots at Nurmagomedov's family and religion.
He first joined the Post as a sub-editor for Young Post before moving to the Sport desk. Conor McGregor has vowed to "kickstart UFC's 2020 big" when he makes his return to the octagon against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone this weekend. The Irishman said there will be blood spilled when the two spar off at UFC 246 in Las Vegas and predicted a knockout. McGregor has not fought in the octagon since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov via submission at UFC 229 in October 2018. Since then, Notorious announced his retirement from mixed martial arts before saying he would return to the sport in October. Speaking before the bout, he said: "I'm in a good spot, I'm ready to fight. "I am setting out for big goals, I am going to kickstart UFC's 2020 big and I'm going to continue it." McGregor has a 21-4 record in UFC and in 2016 became the first fighter to hold belts in two of the company's weight categories at the same time. He has fought just once in the octagon since then — the Nurmagomedov defeat — but lost to Floyd Mayweather in a professional boxing bout in August 2017. His opponent this weekend Cerrone boasts a 36-13 record and comes off two defeats. McGregor said: "I've had my back and forth with Donald throughout the years. "It's hard not to respect Donald right now and at this stage. "He has my respect and although there will be blood spilled on January 18th, it will not be bad blood. The 31-year-old was asked about a return to the boxing ring, and said: "I'd love that Floyd rematch. "For me now, an aspiration of mine is to win a world boxing title, I think that would be a phenomenal feather in the cap." Cerrone said he was relishing the bout at the T-Mobile Arena. "I'm going five rounds with this dude and I cannot wait til Saturday night. This is the fight I wanted. Conor is one of the last of a dying breed of fighters and I can't wait for Saturday night," he said. Conor McGregor has always said that he is humble in victory and loss. Therefore it wasn't surprising when he revealed his celebration plans after UFC 246. And it was moments after he wrapped up the press conference. Conor looked incredibly calm and respectful during the entire press conference. While that doesn't claim that the McGregor who has appeared in the last press conferences was disrespectful, but it was certainly a different side of Conor McGregor. Both the fighters showed great respect towards each other and promised an absolute war inside the octagon. In what was a lovely interaction between both the fighters, Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone shared a lot of friendly moments. McGregor complimented Cerrone's suit and appreciated the skills that he brings inside the octagon. Conor McGregor expects a Budweiser Can from Donald Cerrone Cerrone took time to take notice of Conor McGregor's pull in the MMA world, and his credibility as an MMA fighter. Both the fighters looked absolutely terrific in their stylish suits. McGregor revealed moments after the press conference, how he would like to celebrate after UFC 246, and possibly after a victory at the main event. "I will tell you what, I wonder if he would bring one of those Budweiser cans they build it for him. Most certainly I will share one with Donald." Conor revealed that he would definitely love to share his whiskey Proper 12 with Donald Cerrone. In the past, before Cerrone vs Conor was on everybody's lips, Donald had shared an interesting photo on his Instagram handle. Conor McGregor will face Donald Cerrone in the welterweight division at UFC 246, inside T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. It's a fight stylistically fit for both the fighters. However, Cerrone can take the edge on the ground for the win. But, Conor has already given his prediction with a KO victory to his name. Donald Cerrone has hinted he has no plans to take his fight with Conor McGregor to the canvas. The 50-fight veteran is expected to struggle against the southpaw McGregor as long as their clash on Saturday remains standing. All but two of McGregor's victories in the UFC have come by knockout - but his two defeats have come by submission. And pundits had predicted Cerrone would look to wrestle his way to victory. But he said: "You'd be stupid to think this man doesn't have a wresting defence or a grappling defence, So for me to just walk in and think I can just submit him, we've got to go out there and fight. "I'm going to go in there and give it all we got. I am going five rounds with this dude, and I cannot wait until Saturday." There was no animosity from McGregor during Thursday's press conference as he refrained from trash talk. "He's earned my respect through his activity," McGregor said. "It's hard not to respect Donald. "There will be blood spilled on Saturday, but it won't be bad blood. We're focusing on the skills here and that's going to be exciting for the fans. "There's going to be lots of drama in there and we're eager to get going." Cerrone responded: "He did everything he said he was gonna do, didn't he. "He's f****** great man and I'm honored to share the thing with him." McGregor has not fought since he was choked out by Khabib Nurmagomedov 15 months ago and endured a troubled year during which he was fined for punching a man in a Dublin pub. One thing remained the same, however; his penchant for a prediction. "I've got a solid opponent in front of me, a veteran of the game, and I'm just in a good spot," he said. Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone is live on BT Sport Box Office on Saturday, priced at £19.95