UFC

I achieved it all – McGregor suggests he lost motivation for UFC

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

Conor McGregor revealed he lost his motivation for UFC after achieving a rapid rise to prominence in mixed martial arts, but he says he has now rediscovered his love for the octagon.

McGregor returned after a 15-month absence on Saturday, claiming a rapid first-round victory over Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Las Vegas, which took just 40 seconds.

The 31-year-old had not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, while the Irishman had also ventured into boxing when he faced Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2017.

His time away from mixed martial arts started with a six-month ban imposed after a post-fight brawl outside the cage following his showdown with Khabib.

McGregor was then arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery and criminal mischief in March 2019 after it was alleged he took a man's phone and smashed it on the ground in Miami – the charges were later dropped. In November last year, he was fined €1,000 after pleading guilty to an assault of a man at a pub in Dublin.

However, McGregor insists he is now fully focused on his mixed martial arts career, after acknowledging that he let the people who supported him down.

"I achieved it all. I broke the game before I was 30 years of age, simple as," McGregor told a news conference. "One belt became not enough.

"My coach says it’s the worst nightmare for a coach if his student achieves it all – the money, the fame, the belts, all of this. What then to motivate me?

"I probably had to go through that and then come back to it for the love of it, which is why I got into it in the first place. Everything's a learning curve, you learn what's right and wrong.

"I wasn't committed and it was a disrespect of the people that believed in me. People were taking the time away from their families to come and help me and I wasn't committed with it. I would train and then I'd go missing for three days and then I'd come back and it was sporadic and on my call."

McGregor is adamant the only trick to success is hard work and discipline.

"It's all about commitment and then just do what you need to do. All I did was put in the work," he added.

"We know what the work is we need to do but sometimes you just don't do it. It's like little defeats and then those add up and your interest wanes, then you can get injured and all those things.

"It's about commitment, that's it. You put in the work and you reap the rewards, there's no secret sauce to this. Recognise what you need to do, f****** do it, and you will succeed."

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    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."

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    "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.

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