Las Vegas – It took 15 months for Conor McGregor (22-4, 10-2 UFC) to finally return to the UFC Octagon. It only took him 40 seconds to dispatch Donald Cerrone (36-14, 1 NC; 23-11 UFC) and certify that he is indeed back.
In front of a sold-out T-Mobile Arena crowd and millions of fans who tuned-in to watch his debut on ESPN+, McGregor did not disappoint against one of the toughest fighters in MMA history.
Returning to the Octagon for the first time since his October 2018 loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, McGregor jumped out the gate with a straight left which Cerrone was able to duck. Showing no signs of rust, McGregor continued his assault with multiple shoulder strikes to the face which instantly drew blood from Cerrone’s nose within the first 15 seconds of the contest.
With 13 of his 21 wins prior to the fight coming in the first round and with the long layoff, experts predicted McGregor to go headhunting early and test Cerrone’s granite chin and make him pay for his lack of head movement. McGregor smartly switched levels with his strikes and landed a head kick followed by a flying knee that wobbled the confused Cerrone down to the canvas. Sensing blood in the water, McGregor followed up with multiple unanswered punches forcing referee Herb Dean to call the fight at the 40-second mark of round 1.
Despite being favored to win, McGregor’s quickwork of Cerrone should rank as one of his most impressive victories to date given the caliber of his opponent and the manner he was able to dismantle his foe. With the impressive performance, the UFC’s cash cow definitely reestablished himself as one of the sport’s elite and opened up several intriguing opportunities for the Irishman moving forward like a rematch against Khabib, a clash with BMF champ Jorge Masvidal and even another money fight inside the boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.
As for Cerrone, considered as one of the UFC’s gatekeepers and classiest competitors, it was a nice, well-deserved paycheck for Cowboy to ride off into the sunset with, despite proclaiming his continued love for the sport and his desire to keep on fighting.