Predicting victories and successfully following through on his prognostications is nothing new for former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor, who returns to the Octagon on Saturday against Donald “Cowboy’ Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246.
But since his last outing was a fourth-round submission loss at the hands of undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, some might think twice about his ability to forecast the outcome of his fights.
So McGregor is planning to host a refresher course at T-Mobile Arena this weekend, one that might last a few rounds before it reaches its conclusion.
“Don’t ever doubt me,” McGregor told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter ahead of UFC 246. “I’ll remind you of that one, because I’ve reminded you before and I’ll remind you again. That’s what you’ll learn.
“The fight itself? Knockout, I will seek the knockout. As far as round and time and second and shot, which I can do, I kind of want to accumulate rounds in here. It’s the beginning of a season, I want to regain activity and consistency and more experience under the lights, so I will not be in hurry, but it will be a knockout victory.”
The 31-year-old has been champion in two UFC divisions, holding the featherweight and lightweight championships at the same time, the first fighter to have two belts simultaneously. This return bout however, will be contested in the welterweight division, which could give the bigger Cerrone an advantage.
For McGregor, the choice to fight in the heavier weight class is all about what it affords him.
“Most certainly it’s about options, it opens up options for me in multiple divisions,” said McGregor. “Not a lot of people are doing this, not a lot of people are willing to do this. It’s one of the reasons why I chose 170, I’m currently this weight, well a little bit below, it’s a nice entry into the division.
“I’ve been at this weight before, I fought (Nate) Diaz, I felt phenomenal in the Diaz 2 rematch at this weight. Happy days, I can do it all, across all weight divisions.”
If McGregor follows through on his prediction to KO Cerrone, the options could lead him towards a title fight in any of the three divisions. As far as he’s concerned, the three title holders: Alexander Volkanovski (145 lbs), Khabib Nurmagomedov (155lbs) and Kamaru Usman (170 lbs) don’t stand a chance against him when he’s on his game.
“They all have their specific skill sets, but I am me - no one beats a focused me, no one beats a committed me,” said McGregor. “I am the founder of this game, I am the creator of it all.”
The Dublin native believes it was not being focused that stopped him from reclaiming the lightweight title in October of 2018, when he was defeated by Nurmagomedov. Something that was wrong in that camp, that he has corrected ahead of the Cerrone fight.
“My lack of commitment outside the gym,” said McGregor. “I was committed inside the gym, don’t get me wrong, hard work inside the gym always. It’s just outside the gym you drift off, other things take precedence, you eat that extra thing that you shouldn’t, you stay up later than you should and then it leads to the next training session and you’re not as fully prepared for it and you don’t enjoy it as much. I wasn’t focused on it, that was it.
“For me, when I went into that Brooklyn arena (the bus attack prior to UFC 223) my job was done and then the fight was a secondary thing to it and I wasn’t has committed and I just went in for a fight and that was it and I was damaged, injured and unfocused.”
Despite the long layoff between fights, McGregor still loves watching UFC events and says he’s been ready for a while now to get back in the Octagon.
“I’ve been trying to come back; I was scheduled to fight at the end of July last year in Madison Square Garden, we had that earmarked and I broke the left paw,” said McGregor. “Then other things keep happening, certain things get in the way, it’s not from not wanting to get back in, certain things make it harder. That’s just the way it is.”