‘King is back’: McGregor shocks the world
No one moves the needle like Conor McGregor. No other fighter turns every appearance into a can't-miss event. No one talks like him, enters an arena like him, takes your breath away like him or captures the world's attention like him.
The list of celebrities at his triumphant return against Donald Cerrone on Sunday was longer than a Lakers-Clippers game this season. Matt McConaughey, Tom Brady, Tyson Fury ... we could be here all day.
The list of big names immediately responding to his 40-second TKO was even longer as the likes of LeBron James and Manny Pacquiao tipped their cap.
This is how the world reacted.
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MCGREGOR FLATTENS COWBOY
The legend of Conor McGregor is set to continue to rise after a stunning return to the octagon.
The 31-year-old Irish superstar hasn't been in the ring since his controversial loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 but he's returned with a bang.
McGregor came out swinging, looking to end it with a flying knee in the first seconds which Cerrone dodged, before getting him in a clinch.
But McGregor wouldn't be held back, destroying Cerrone's nose with his shoulder.
As they got out of the clinch, Cerrone lashed out with an ineffective kick, before McGregor responded in kind, knocking the American to the canvas with the ground and pound finishing it out.
It was over almost before it began with referee Herb Dean finishing the fight after just 40 seconds.
It was so dominant McGregor landed 19 significant strikes, Cerrone didn't have any.
The fight finished and famed UFC commentator Joe Rogan said "The King is back".
He's now the first fighter to claim a knockout victory across three divisions
As for who's next, McGregor said he wants to stay at welterweight but said he's going to party tonight but finished with a McGregor-like flurry.
""Any one of these little, mouthy fools can get it. Every single one of them can get it, it does not matter," he said of his next fight.
That's the McGregor we know.
As Conor McGregor mentioned in his post-fight interview (he was correct)...he becomes the first fighter in UFC history with a knockout victory at featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight. pic.twitter.com/3XnrJLYPf4— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 19, 2020
Cerrone still looked stunned after the fight after he was blown out of the octagon with such insane ferocity and the odd move of the shoulder strikes.
"I've never seen anything like that, the threw me way off guard. He busted my nose, started bleeding and then he head kicked me He got me with a and I was like 'oh man, he got me this fast, got my a** whipped early'. But hey man, I love this sport, I'm going to keep fighting. I don't care, I've got my family here, I'm okay."
THE WORLD REACTS
The result takes McGregor to 22-4 for his career as the first simultaneous champ returned to the octagon.
Incredibly, it was his first victory since November 2016 when he stopped lightweight Eddie Alvarez to be become claim his second world champions.
"The Notorious" floored Cerrone only 20 seconds into the bout with a perfectly placed kick before finishing it off.
He also sent "Cowboy" to the hospital, with the 36-year-old to the hospital, with the savage beating.
The world quickly lost their minds.
THE NOTORIOUS!!!— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) January 19, 2020
I have never seen a shoulder shot like that one from Conor - actually shoulder shots. Cowboy acted like he'd never experienced one bc the most experienced UFC fighter ever just kept taking them. Just bizarre. Conor McGregor won the fight in a few seconds with his left shoulder.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 19, 2020
McGregor lashed out at the UFC's practice of handing out interim belts to decide the mandatory challenger for a belt.
"I'm so happy," McGregor said after the fight. "UFC can strip fighters and give fighters make-believe belts but they can't take away knockout finishes."
I paid $65 for 30 seconds of UFC action and it was totally worth it.— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) January 19, 2020
Turns up and destroys a champions face in 10 seconds what a legend, cerrone looked like he’d just done twelve rounds with mike Tyson 😂— Jamie Ohara (@Mrjamieohara1) January 19, 2020
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CONOR
As for who's next, it's unclear at the moment.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson fight in April for the lightweight title and McGregor could chase the winner.
Talk of Floyd Mayweather round two or boxing against Manny Pacquiao have also been discussed.
But there's a clear favourite with the world wantings McGregor Vs Masvidal with the "Baddest Motherf***** Belt" on the line.
Conor vs Masvidal next , biggest option for UFC— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) January 19, 2020
Conor-Masvidal would be must-see, but I want to see Conor get another shot at Khabib. He got even with Nate Diaz. Maybe this time he could treat Khabib with respect before the fight and figure a way to avoid getting choked out.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 19, 2020
Coming in, I thought I would want to see McGregor vs. Gaethje next, for the No. 1 lightweight contender spot. If McGregor won. Now, can't do it. There's only one option. It has to happen. Can't go any other way.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 19, 2020
Conor McGregor vs. Jorge Masvidal
Obviously a great, dominant performance from Conor McGregor tonight. But I just love Cowboy Cerrone’s response in the post-fight interview. Class personified. Got a lot of respect and love for that man. Fun UFC night.— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) January 19, 2020