LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor stopped Donald Cerrone with a head butt on Saturday night and struck 40 seconds into the first round at UFC 246, announcing his return to Mixed Martial Arts with his first win since 2016.
The former Irish second division champion returned after three years of inactivity and problems outside the cage with a performance that repeated his greatest struggles during his unprecedented rise.
McGregor (22-4) put Cerrone (36-14) on the floor with a perfectly placed kick after only 20 seconds and ended mercilessly, to the delight of a sold-out crowd in the T-Mobile Arena.
McGregor's hand had not been raised to victory since November 2016, when he stopped light Eddie Alvarez and became the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts at the same time. Multiplied by his fame and fortune, McGregor only fought his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather in 2017 and he lost a one-sided UFC fight against lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in late 2018.
After a year of inactivity and trouble outside the cage, McGregor vowed to return to the elite in this fight against a UFC veteran and stop specialist. His dramatic victory over Cerrone indicated that he was on the way.
With 23 victories within the octagon, Cerrone is the most successful fighter in UFC history. This is a sign of his consistency and commitment to an unusually busy schedule. Cerrone, who also holds the UFC record with 16 stops, has fought eleven times since McGregor's win against Alvarez and has been in the cage for the 15th time since losing his only UFC title in December 2015.
But Cerrone's last two fights were canceled when he suffered too much damage, and he was unable to block McGregor's crucial kick or recover from the punishment on the ground.
McGregor believes he can recapture the formidable form that he showed during his meteoric rise to unprecedented MMA success. He won 15 fights in a row during a five-year run from low-profile shows in Dublin to the largest MMA events in the world. He stopped five UFC elite opponents with punches on the way up.