UFC

McGregor basks in stunning comeback: Etch my name in history one more time

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

"Etch my name in history one more time". That was the message from Conor McGregor after returning with a devastating first-round TKO against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.

McGregor ended his 15-month absence in stunning fashion, needing just 40 seconds to stop Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Irish star McGregor (22-4) had not fought in the octagon since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.

However, former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor had no trouble at welterweight against veteran Cerrone as he brutally beat the American.

"I like this [welterweight] division," McGregor said in his post-fight interview. "I feel really good.

"But I came out of here unscathed. I'm in shape. We've got work to do to get back to where I was."

Asked about potential next opponent with Jorge Masvidal in the crowd, McGregor said: "Any one of these fools can get it.

"All of them. Every single one. It does not matter."

After striking Cerrone (36-14) with his shoulder, McGregor then delivered a devastating kick to the head before a flurry of punches prompted the referee to stop the welterweight bout and main event.

"I'd never seen anything like that," Cerrone said. "He busted my nose, it started bleeding, and he stepped back and head-kicked me. Oh, man. This happened this fast?"

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    Jon Jones said victory felt "so sweet" after he controversially landed a unanimous points verdict over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in Houston.

    The judges scored the fight 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 in favour of Jones, but Reyes was furious and said he had been "all over" the champion over the first three rounds.

    UFC president Dana White revealed his children thought Reyes had done enough to get the decision and were plaguing him for answers over why Jones retained his light-heavyweight title.

    With his success, Jones becomes the UFC fighter with the most wins in title fights, his tally of 14 one better than Georges St-Pierre's record.

    And the 32-year-old American is now undefeated in his last 18 UFC fights, having last lost to Matt Hamill in 2009, when he was disqualified.

    However, the crowd inside the Toyota Center saw a tight contest and Jones admitted he had been through a war in the octagon.

    "He landed some hard hits. The fans like it when they see me get hit - it doesn't happen very often," Jones said.

    "But at the same time, I landed some takedowns. I got his back on more than one occasion. ... A hard-earned victory but a victory."

    He added, according to ESPN: "That's the way to make American history right there: hard-fought.

    "It wasn't the most impressive victory, but nothing, absolutely nothing that has never been done before is easy. It is never easy. I left it all out there, showed the heart of a champion in the fifth round, and it's so sweet."

    Jones, who certainly came on strong in the fourth and fifth rounds, was not in the mood for modesty after confirmation his reign as champion would continue.

    "Obviously, my body is hurting, but this victory is so sweet. This fight helps to put me as one of the greatest American athletes of all time," he said.

    Reyes, a 30-year-old from California who suffered his first loss, took a swipe at the 49-46 verdict against him, insisting that was a false reflection of the match-up.

    He said: "I do feel disrespected. I know I won that fight ... I made Jon Jones look like just a man. I brought the fight to him.

    "I had him [in rounds] one through three, man. I was all over him. It is what it is. I'll get better. I proved that I'm the real deal."

    White, watching on, hailed Jones as "the GOAT [greatest of all time], and said he admired how he was finding a way against "these young killers".

    But White spared a thought for Reyes, too.

    "My kids are terrorising me that the fix is in," he said. "[They are asking:] 'How does this happen, Dad? Reyes won the fight!'

    "None of us are judges. The judges call the fight, and that's it."

  • UFC 247: Jon Jones v Dominick Reyes - the big questions UFC 247: Jon Jones v Dominick Reyes - the big questions

    Jon Jones is back in the octagon this weekend and is on the cusp of history when he faces Dominick Reyes at UFC 247.

    The light-heavyweight king faces the unbeaten Reyes at Houston's Toyota Center and another victory would be his 14th title triumph, which would represent the most in UFC.

    Jones has not been in the ring since being troubled by Thiago Santos last July, but still heads into this one as the heavy favourite against the unfancied Reyes.

    Ahead of his latest title defence, we look at some of the big questions surrounding the fight.


    Can Jones be beaten?

    A quick glance at Jones' MMA record does show a solitary defeat. However, there is an asterisk next to that loss to Matt Hamill in 2009, with Jones disqualified for the use of illegal elbows after flooring his opponent. Jones has defeated some of the best in the MMA game and, though Reyes is sure to be a tricky customer, it is a tall order to see him losing this one.

    How did his last fight go?

    It was far from a vintage showing from Jones, who needed a split decision to overcome Santos – the first time in his storied career that has happened. All three judges scored it 48-47, with two in favour of the defending champion. It was one of the most sluggish performances of his career, though, and Jones will no doubt be keen to show Father Time is not catching up with him just yet.

    Is the motivation still there for Jones?

    This is perhaps Reyes' window of opportunity. Jones hinted at a lack of desire to carry on campaigning at the 205lb limit back in October when discussing his fellow light heavyweights and said on social media: "I want a fight to get excited about". Jones' desire to be considered the greatest is not in question but he has previously admitted to believing he has nothing to gain against Reyes, a feeling he also said he had for his previous two fights as well. A young, hungry Reyes will still have to produce the performance of his life, albeit there is potentially the chance to catch Jones off guard.

    What problems does Reyes pose?

    First and foremost a huge left hand, which has the knockout power to trouble any opponent. But Reyes also has more length than Santos and is an athletic fighter. He showed decent takedown defence when beating Chris Weidman, but that area will need to be flawless to defeat someone with the all-round qualities of Jones.

    What's next if Jones wins?

    This week, Jones was talking about what he needed to do to settle his claim as the G.O.A.T. The suggestion was winning belts in two weight divisions would enhance his argument, so the question of whether Jones could make the step up to heavyweight was once again a hot topic. There is little left for Jones to accomplish at light heavy and Francis Ngannou is a bout Jones has described as "inevitable". Another dance with Daniel Cormier could also be a possibility, though Jones previously said a bout against his long-time foe will not take place at heavyweight.

  • Khabib on Conor McGregor rematch rumours: $100m to beat up that idiot again? That's not rational Khabib on Conor McGregor rematch rumours: $100m to beat up that idiot again? That's not rational

    Conor McGregor's hopes of a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov may have been dashed after his rival responded to reports of a second bout by saying "giving me $100 million for me to beat up that idiot again? I don't think that’s rational".

    Khabib scored a convincing submission victory in their first showdown at UFC 229 in October 2018, a night that was marred by an ugly brawl between the two warring camps in the aftermath of their fight.

    McGregor spent 15 months out of the Octagon following the defeat before returning to earn a first-round knockout over Donald Cerrone last month and the Irishman has spoken of his desire for another shot at unbeaten lightweight king Khabib.

    This week, Khabib's manager Ali Abdelaziz told TMZ that Saudi Arabia would be willing to stump up a whopping $100m to host a Khabib fight if McGregor or Floyd Mayweather Jr were his opponent.

    However, Khabib – who is scheduled to defend his lightweight belt against Tony Ferguson on April 18 – appeared uninterested in facing off with McGregor again.

    "Why do I need that kind of money? There are so many organisations for example…there's not only football for the blind, there's Sambo and other sports," he said when speaking to reporters in his native Dagestan. 

    "Let [UFC] give it to them, if they don't know what to do with the money. But giving me $100 million for me to beat up that idiot again? I don't think that's rational.

    "What'll happen after a fight – no one knows. I don't worry about it. I'm surprised people even question me about a rematch.

    "It seems that people want to continue the festivities after the fight. Everyone saw what happened in the octagon. I controlled the fight every step of the way.

    "I did everything I wanted to do to him – he even gave up. How can we discuss a rematch? We can only talk about continuing festivities and making money."

    Khabib said his only priority for the time being is focusing on Ferguson.

    "I have a fight on April 18," he added. "A very serious fight. For the past month and a half I've been consistently training day and night. 

    "I've gotten myself in good shape, to where I'm supposed to be 70 days before a fight. I feel great."

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