Conor McGregor is officially back.
After 15 months away, the former two-division champion needed just 40 seconds to walk through Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the UFC 246 main event.
There was no feeling out period for “The Notorious” as he came out of the gate firing and didn’t stop until Cerrone was crumbled on the mat and referee Herb Dean was pulling him off before further damage was inflicted.
“I made history here tonight – I set another record,” McGregor shouted following his latest TKO win. “I’m the first fighter in UFC history to secure knockout victories at featherweight, at lightweight and now at welterweight, across three weight divisions. I’m very, very proud of that.”
McGregor rushed out of the gates and tried to take Cerrone’s head off with the first left hand he threw, but “Cowboy” was able to avoid that first punch. Unfortunately for him, that was just about the only shot that didn’t land.
McGregor followed up that punch with a series of shoulder shrugs that actually busted open Cerrone’s nose – and definitely surprised him – as blood started spraying down his chest.
The barrage continued after the separation, as McGregor fired a head kick that blasted through Cerrone’s defense and put him on wobbly legs. The Irish superstar seized the moment and unloaded a barrage of punches as Dean took a close look to see if the fight should continue.
To his credit, the veteran referee gave Cerrone every opportunity to recover. But McGregor’s relentless attacks were just too much. As the final punches landed, Dean pulled McGregor off the fallen “Cowboy,” with the end coming less than a minute into the opening round.
HE. IS. BACK.— UFC (@ufc) January 19, 2020
@TheNotoriousMMA CLOSES THE SHOW EARLY! WOW! #UFC246 pic.twitter.com/0B0NXbi6pY
It was a statement performance by McGregor, who returned to action after a lopsided fourth-round submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. Now that he’s back, McGregor is keeping his eye on everybody at both lightweight and welterweight — including 170-pound champ Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, who were both sitting cageside — as he plans for a busy 2020.
“I like this weight division,” McGregor said. “It’s good going up and down. God willing, I came out of here unscathed. I’m in shape. I don’t believe I’m there yet, though. I’ve still got work to do to get back to where I was. Any one of these little mouthy fools can get it!”
Cerrone drops his third straight fight after falling to McGregor by TKO. The resilient “Cowboy” had a smile on his face as he hugged his grandmother and promised there’s plenty of fight left in him.
“I love this sport,” Cerrone said. “I’m going to keep fighting. This is what I love.”