Conor McGregor has vowed to “kickstart UFC’s 2020” when he makes his return to the octagon against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone this weekend.
The Irishman said there will be blood spilled when the two spar off at UFC 246 in Las Vegas and predicted a knockout.
McGregor has not fought in the octagon since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov via submission at UFC 229 in October 2018.
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Since then, Notorious announced his retirement from mixed martial arts before saying he would return to the sport in October.
Speaking before the bout, he said: “I’m in a good spot, I’m ready to fight. I am setting out for big goals, I am going to kickstart UFC’s 2020 big and I’m going to continue it.”
McGregor has a 21-4 record in UFC and in 2016 became the first fighter to hold belts in two of the company’s weight categories at the same time.
He has fought just once in the octagon since then – the Nurmagomedov defeat – but lost to Floyd Mayweather in a professional boxing bout in August 2017.
His opponent this weekend, Cerrone, boasts a 36-13 record and comes off two defeats.
McGregor said: “I’ve had my back and forth with Donald throughout the years. It’s hard not to respect Donald right now and at this stage.
“He has my respect and although there will be blood spilled on January 18, it will not be bad blood. And for the Mystic Mac prediction, it will be a KO.”
McGregor feels he is back fully focused on what he does best, after difficulties away from the octagon.
“I’m just in a good spot and that’s it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve changed or altered, you know. I’m just committed and focused and happy to be here. Mostly like I always have been.”
“It has been a phenomenal camp. I’ve given it my all.
“I don’t feel pressure. Pressure creates diamonds as they say so I’m very excited to be in the position. Very well prepared. That narrative of I’ve lost once, unavenged inside the UFC’s octagon. The other defeat was in a boxing ring, under a specific set of rules. So the narrative of that is a little far fetched, but I am well prepared. I’m going to put on a phenomenal show this Saturday, and that’s it. Sit back and enjoy.”
The 31-year-old was asked about a return to the boxing ring, and said: “I’d love that Floyd rematch. I thought I did very well, I think with some slight adjustments I’d have done even better.
“For me now, an aspiration of mine is to win a world boxing title, I think that would be a phenomenal feather in the cap.”
Cerrone said he was relishing the bout at the T-Mobile Arena.
“I’m going five rounds with this dude and I cannot wait til Saturday night.
“This is the fight I wanted. Conor is one of the last of a dying breed of fighters and I can’t wait for Saturday night,” he said.