UFC

McGregor: I'd beat Cerrone even if I had the flu

By Sports Desk January 11, 2020

Conor McGregor believes Donald Cerrone looks better at 170 pounds but claimed he could beat his UFC 246 opponent at any weight, even if he had the flu.

Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor will make his return to the octagon next Saturday, having not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in an October 2018 clash that was overshadowed by a post-bout brawl.

Upon announcing his return from retirement, the Irishman said he was planning three fights in 2020, with Jorge Masvidal – due to his victory over Nate Diaz to clinch the BMF title – and Nurmagomedov his primary targets.

McGregor has also spoken of an interest in taking on UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after opting to make his return at 170lbs, which he feels is more comfortable for Cerrone.

Asked why he did not decide on a lightweight bout and make things difficult for Cerrone, McGregor told ESPN: "I know, I could have. 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 myself sharp. I don't want to cut and then build and then cut. I'm happy where I’m at.

"Also 170 is an exciting one for me. 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 [championship] 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?"

A potential rematch against Nurmagomedov is unlikely to take place outside of the lightweight division, which McGregor assured is no problem.

He added: "I'm not done at 155, I could make 155 this fight no problem, but I just want to go in fresh and as it is, let the fight play as it is and open up all my options."

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    Middleweight champion Adesanya had spoken of chasing big-money fights with Jon Jones and even Conor McGregor.

    But for now the Nigeria-born New Zealander has a score to settle with Costa and fight fans are undoubtedly relishing the pair mixing it in the Octagon at UFC 253.


    WHY THE HYPE?

    Because these guys have been on a collision course for some time and only a biceps injury sustained by Costa made the wait so long.

    Jibes have been thrown back and forth, with Costa accusing Adesanya of ducking the challenge of former light-heavyweight king Jones.

    Adesanya has something to prove after an underwhelming win via unanimous decision against Yoel Romero back in March, and his kick-boxing brilliance and Costa's pressure fighting make this a bout of real intrigue.


    GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

    Adesanya became the UFC's interim middleweight champion with a unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum in a classic in April 2019. He then defeated the legendary Robert Whittaker in October with a stunning knockout to unify the division.

    Each of Costa's first four wins in a UFC ring came via way of KO/TKO and in August 2019 he defeated Romero via unanimous decision.


    WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?

    Adesanya: 19-0-0

    Costa: 13-0-0


    TALE OF THE TAPE

    Adesanya:

    Age: 31
    Height: 6'4" (193cm)
    Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
    Reach: 80"
    Leg reach: 44.5"

    Costa:

    Age: 29
    Height: 6'1" (185cm)
    Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
    Reach: 72"
    Leg reach: 39.5"


    WHAT THEY'VE SAID

    Adesanya referred to Costa as an "inflated balloon animal" back in June and during his media activities ahead of UFC 253 made a figure out of balloons to impersonate Costa, saying: "Hey guys, my name is Paulo Costa. I'm the Eraser and I'm going to be the champion. Israel, I will erase you." Adesanya then twisted the balloons until they popped…

    In controversial comments to Submission Radio in August, Costa said: "I have just one question. Adesanya, why are you freezing when you face Romero? You're not a real champion, man. You don't deserve. I will kill you."


    FIGHT STATS IN UFC

    Adesanya:

    - Adesanya has connected with 503 of his 1,032 attempted significant strikes, a success rate of 49 per cent.

    - Of his successful strikes, 88 per cent have come from a standing position.

    - On the defensive side, Adesanya has guarded against 87 per cent of takedown attempts.

    - He has also seen off 66 per cent of strikes against him.

    Costa:

    - Costa has landed 307 of his 531 attempted significant strikes, giving him a success rate of 58 per cent.

    - As with Adesanya, Costa tends to strike from a standing position - with 82 per cent coming via that method.

    - He has successfully blocked 80 per cent of takedown attempts against him.

    - Costa has also thwarted 54 per cent of strikes from his opponents.

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    Adesanya – who is nicknamed "The Last Stylebender" – is the defending UFC middleweight champion and goes up against Costa on "Fight Island".

    Both fighters are undefeated heading into what has been billed as the fight of 2020, but Adesanya was adamant Costa will prove no match for him.

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    "Everyone thinks, wow this is a big fight. I'm like, no, I've already had the fight of the middleweight division, which was Kelvin Gastelum.

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    Adesanya and Costa enjoyed a civil meeting in Abu Dhabi, with the duo trading compliments.

    Costa acknowledged his surprise at Adesanya's change in demeanour during the meeting.

    "I don't know what happened, he changed his personality a lot, his persona," Costa told MMA Mania. 

    "The Adesanya that I saw on the video conference was a very disrespectful guy, he showed his fingers a lot to me. But when I met him upstairs, he was very kind, very gentle."

    However, neither fighter held back in their verbal insults during media day, with Adesanya going as far as to tell Costa: "Shut the f*** up before I become your stepdad."

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