UFC

UFC 246: Conor McGregor v Donald Cerrone - What they said

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

The build-up to Conor McGregor's UFC return against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone on Saturday has been tame by the Irishman's usual standards, but there was still some interesting verbal sparring.

McGregor lost his last bout to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 and hopes a rematch will form part of a three-fight season, though the quality of his next opponents will no doubt depend on how he fares against the UFC's all-time wins leader Cerrone.

The outspoken Irishman was largely respectful of his veteran opponent in a pre-fight news conference on Wednesday, but he still delivered some stinging barbs in the lead up to their meeting.

We take a look at some of the best quotes ahead of this weekend's highly anticipated event in Las Vegas.

 

"YOU'RE STIFF AS A BOARD"

When it was confirmed Cerrone would be the man to take on McGregor in his comeback, an exchange between the two at the UFC's "Go Big" press conference in September 2015 was quickly brought out of the archives.

After then-interim featherweight champion McGregor said Rafael dos Anjos, at the time the lightweight champion with a defence against Cerrone lined up, would have a "celebration" if a fight between the two was agreed, Cowboy was unimpressed.

Cerrone: "Conor has no right going up to 55, there's no way, he's not going to stand a chance, we're too big for him, we're too strong. You can take your little English a** and get on."

McGregor: "You're too slow and too stiff. You're stiff as a board, I'd snap you in half and that's it. I see stiffness when I look in that 155-pound division. I feel like they're stuck in the mud almost. The featherweights hit like flyweights so it's nice down there just destroying them and killing that whole division. But I had my eye on that 155 division and I see them all stuck in the mud over there. Have I been wrong yet? No."

Cerrone: "You have a monster here at 45, [Jose] Aldo about to beat you're a**. You've beat nobody and you think you're gonna come into 155 and make a statement? Come on man, sit the f*** down."

McGregor: "Yeehaw!"

 

"I'D BEAT HIM WITH THE FLU"

McGregor will fight Cerrone at welterweight rather than returning to lightweight.

Asked why he did not make Cerrone's life more difficult by meeting him at 155 pounds, 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."

 

"MCGREGOR TO WIN BY KO"

While McGregor has revealed stories of him training with Tyson Fury were untrue, the former heavyweight boxing champion will be in attendance in Las Vegas to support the Irishman.

"Conor McGregor is gonna win. I say by knockout. And I'm gonna be there to see it happen cageside," Fury told Fight Hype.

 

"I'LL F*** YOU UP IN THE LOBBY"

Ahead of the pair taking to the stage for their pre-fight media conference, Cerrone warned McGregor, who has a penchant for cutting remarks while playing up to the crowd, against crossing the line.

Cerrone told MMA Fighting of McGregor's trash talking: "He's the best at it. He is the best. The thing is you'd really have to go low, talk about my grandma or my kid and then it would put it on another level. You understand what I'm saying? Then I'll just come f*** you up in the lobby type s***.

"I don't think it's ever going to go that way. He understands that. We're fighting, he can talk about that all he wants but don't low blow."

 

"ONE OF THE BIGGEST SUPERSTARS IN COMBAT SPORTS HISTORY"

McGregor may no longer be a champion and his return is not a title fight, but UFC president Dana White feels he brings something the organisation's biggest names do not.

White told reporters: "McGregor is one of the biggest superstars in combat sports history. You put McGregor with [Mike] Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, he's in that list of guys. He has the biggest pay per view in history, so he's a mega star and to have him is big.

"All these other fighters have done great things, if you look at what Weili Zhang has accomplished, Israel Adesanya has accomplished, [Kamaru] Usman ... there's different levels of guys doing great things but to compare them to Conor is a tough one."

 

"I CAN READ HIM LIKE A CHILDREN'S BOOK"

The pair shook hands ahead of a media conference on Wednesday that proved largely cordial, with McGregor stating he will win by knockout but there will be no bad blood. He did still deliver one stinging line, though.

McGregor said: "I like him and all, he's a good guy, but I can read Donald like a children's book, if we're being honest. He's a good fighter, he's got some good tricks up his sleeve. I know the tricks he has, I know what he's planning and what he hopes to achieve. But we're well prepared, and we'll see on the night. It's going to be a good night."

Related items

  • Marega hits out at Vitoria fans and referee after suffering alleged racist abuse Marega hits out at Vitoria fans and referee after suffering alleged racist abuse

    Porto striker Moussa Marega walked off after suffering alleged racist abuse at Vitoria Guimaraes and he hit out at their fans and the match officials.

    Marega celebrated his 60th-minute goal, which put Porto 2-1 up at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on Sunday, by pointing to his skin and was subsequently booked by referee Luis Godinho.

    Objects were thrown in the direction of the Mali international, who made the decision to leave the pitch 10 minutes later.

    Marega's team-mates tried to encourage him to stay on, but he was eventually helped down the tunnel and displayed his middle fingers to the supporters.

    After the match, he posted on Instagram: "I would just like say to these idiots who come to the stadium to make racist chants … go f*** yourselves.

    "And I also thank the referees for not defending me and for giving me a yellow card because I defend my skin colour.

    "I hope I never meet you on a football pitch again! YOU ARE A DISGRACE!!!"

    Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said former Vitoria player Marega had been targeted from the warm-up and the club were "indignant" with what occurred.

    Vitoria president Miguel Pinto Lisboa condemned the alleged abuse but suggested the 28-year-old did not help himself with his actions.

    "At Vitoria we have players of all colours, races and creeds. We promote gender and race quality in sport and do not engage in behaviours that may harm that," he said.

    "If any Vitoria supporter behaved this way we will take appropriate action, but it seems to me there were also provocative actions intended to stoke the fire.

    "The player's attitude was visible on the television cameras."

    Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) president Fernando Gomes said in a statement: "Racist behaviour is intolerable in an open and evolved society.

    "The perpetrators of racist insults must be identified and brought to justice. The Portuguese Football Federation repudiates racist behaviour, wherever it comes from and wherever it occurs.

    "On Sunday, Moussa Marega was the target of racist insults that cannot fail to be severely punished, in a serious and condemnable incident.

    "The Portuguese Football Federation expresses its solidarity with Moussa Marega. As the FPF president I assure you I will continue to do everything so that fans who do not respect football are definitively outside the stadium. This is an urgent fight for the whole society."

  • Hazard bolsters Zidane's old guard but Madrid stumble Hazard bolsters Zidane's old guard but Madrid stumble

    Real Madrid's most memorable attacking moment during the first half of their title-race twisting 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo was Sergio Ramos launching into one of his driving runs in search of a goal, only to volley the ball into his own face when it arrived.

    This botched attack had a claim beyond slapstick, given Zinedine Zidane's LaLiga leaders failed to muster a single shot on target before the break.

    Indeed, there was nothing remotely as incisive from an forward line featuring Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale as the move Celta produced for their seventh-minute opener – Iago Aspas shifting smoothly into a pocket of space in front of a ramshackle Madrid defence and threading a perfect pass for Fedor Smolov to coolly slot home.

    Hazard was making his first appearance since suffering a fractured ankle in November and, shortly after Ramos' party piece, showed signs of starting to shift through the gears.

    In the 40th minute, Karim Benzema pulled out to the left channel and Hazard scampered around the outside, pulling the ball back from the byline for the on-rushing Bale to fire narrowly over.

    It was link-up play to cheer Zidane as he tries to get his returning attackers up to speed ahead of the Champions League showdown against Manchester City later this month.

    On this evidence, however, Hazard and Bale are playing for one spot. The ever-dependable Benzema is a guaranteed starter, fitness permitting, and Los Blancos missed the benched Vinicius Jr's dynamism for much of Sunday's contest.

    Having set themselves a low bar in the first-half, Madrid improved considerably during the second period and hit the front thanks to a couple of sure things.

    Toni Kroos' midfield scheming is not annotated with goals too frequently, but he dispatched Marcelo's pass to score for the sixth time against Celta. He has 14 LaLiga goals overall since joining Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014.

    Ramos is, by comparison, somewhat more prolific from centre-back. A smart finish from an offside position showed his radar to be back in order following the earlier mishap and there was little doubt about the outcome when he stepped up for a 65th-minute penalty.

    Ruben Blanco erred badly when Benzema and Hazard repeated their first-half link, with the Celta goalkeeper darting from his ground to needlessly bring the Belgium star down.

    Blanco guessed correctly but Ramos' sprung from his staggered run-up to dispatch an unerring strike.

    Hazard made way for Vinicius in the 73rd minute and enjoyed a warm ovation from the Bernabeu faithful – the sort of reception that sadly only seems to exist in the past tense for Bale nowadays.

    As for the other grizzled survivors of Zidane's three consecutive Champions League final triumphs from 2016 through to 2018, they remain his dependables.

    They will be asked to go to the well once more the next time Madrid emerge at their famous home ground, faced with a formidable but flawed City in a competition they know like the back of their hand.

    It would be a brave person who backs against them but the sight of Celta producing a sting in the tail suggested the years could be taking a toll.

    Substitutes Denis Suarez and Santi Mina combined as Aspas and Smolov had before for the latter to score – the lines of communication between Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane in the backline again appearing unhelpfully clogged.

    The lead at the top of LaLiga from Barcelona was only a point at full-time, a situation roughly as comfortable as booting a football into your own face.

    Of course, Ramos tumbled theatrically in stoppage time to try and win another penalty and Madrid will strain and scrap for everything until the end of the season. With 46 goals from 24 LaLiga games, don't expect them to blow too many teams away either. The Galactico grind is on.

  • Sarri's men splutter in Ronaldo's absence Sarri's men splutter in Ronaldo's absence

    After 37 minutes at the Allianz Stadium, Brescia could at least be grateful Maurizio Sarri had spared them the torment of trying to contain Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Serie A's second-bottom side had just been reduced to 10 men, forward Florian Aye bounding untidily into Aaron Ramsey with the enthusiasm and poise of a Labrador puppy to earn a second booking in the space of three and a half minutes.

    The visitors were already operating with their third-choice goalkeeper between the posts, an early head injury having accounted for Jesse Joronen's understudy Enrico Alfonso and thrusting Lorenzo Andrenacci into an unexpected top-flight debut.

    It meant opportunity knocked for Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, the Argentina duo who were leading the Juve attack as Ronaldo, who has scored in every appearance in 2020, enjoyed a well-earned rest.

    Higuain and Dybala have had to tailor their games this term under Sarri, operating within a significantly different tactical setup and very much at Ronaldo's service.

    Nevertheless, the gulf in Serie A goal returns from the trio heading into the weekend was stark: Ronaldo boasting a haul of 20 in 2019-20 set against five apiece for his two attacking colleagues.

    As Juve resume their pursuit of that elusive Champions League crown and contend with Inter's unflinching challenge domestically, it would be preferable to see the burden shared more equitably – irrespective of Ronaldo's superpowers showing little sign of fading.

    Higuain offered a demonstration of his underrated selflessness just after the half hour, stealing in front of Ales Mateju and cutting an inviting ball back across goal. It laid on the sort of chance Ronaldo has gleefully gobbled up time and again over recent weeks, but Dybala failed to adjust to the bounce and skewed woefully wide from eight yards.

    Aye's indiscretion allowed him to make amends in style, lifting a delicate free-kick beyond Andrenacci.

    Higuain and Dybala each went close with fine angled strikes before the break but, not for the first time over recent weeks, a presumed formality for Sarri's men became a bit of a slog.

    Brescia's defending was often of the last-ditch variety – Stefano Sabelli showing great poise to clear off the line and deny Higuain before Birkir Bjarnason bravely denied Dybala at the end of a slaloming run – although their Iceland midfielder fired a presentable half-chance over from 20 yards in the 72nd minute.

    It required the more unheralded member of Sarri's Ronaldo-less trident, Juan Cuadrado, to make the points safe. Cuadrado found a cute finish after a clever one-two with substitute Blaise Matuidi.

    Like Dybala's, this was another goal wonderfully easy on the eye. The concern for Juventus and their coach is they are increasingly reliant on such moments of magic or Ronaldo's enduring brilliance. Sarrismo is yet to fully take hold in Turin, with the collective frequently underwhelming.

    Higuain had a header ruled out for offside and Dybala crashed against the crossbar late on, meaning Inter's goal difference remains five better than Juve's ahead of Sunday's blockbuster clash with third-placed Lazio in Rome.

    For the fine-margins battle ahead, it is hard to escape the feeling Juventus need more than the sporadic flashes of brilliance that are just about sustaining them at present.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.