Conor McGregor Is Back

UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cowboy

Jim Rome
January 16, 2020 - 10:42 am
Conor McGregor

USA Today

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It’s almost impossible to pick a starting point with Conor McGregor considering his unbelievable rocket ship ride to international super stardom—that he subsequently chased with three straight years of nothing but bad news and bad results. And for as terrible as things went the last time he was in the Octagon, they’ve gone even worse outside of the cage ever since. Arrests, lawsuits, cell phone smashings, lackluster whiskey reviews, and a left hand to the face of an old man who didn’t want a pour of the Proper at a pub in Ireland 

But now after 15 months away from the UFC—Conor McGregor is back. And he looks great. And he says he feels great. And he’s the heavy favorite heading into Saturday’s welterweight fight against Donald Cowboy Cerrone in Vegas.

And if you were expecting a grip of the usual, legendary trash talk this guy runs at his pre-fight pressers—then you’re gonna be disappointed. Because not only was Conor 15 minutes early to The Pearl Theater yesterday, he was on his best behavior and killing Cowboy—with kindness.

Not only a compliment but A dude who’s head to toe in David August complementing another man’s threads. A far cry from when he dressed down Mayweather for showing up like a 40-year school boy with a backpack who can’t read.

The entire 30 minute session was a tennis match of respect. Both guys building the other dude up. Cowboy saying that no one brings the eyeballs and the money like Conor and calling him his toughest test yet. And Conor straight up being asked for a prediction and using it as an opportunity to shine up Cerrone.

If this all seems weird for Conor, it’s because it is. Doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong. But it’s different, for sure. This is the same guy who threw unopened bottles at Nate Diaz at their presser years back. And the same guy who brought a pint of whiskey to his sit down with Khabib and starting pulling from it while verbally annihilating the dude.

Obviously none of what Conor said he’d do to Khabib actually happened. But it sold the hell out of the fight. Because no one works like a mic like that guy. Which is why it was strange to hear him up shining up Cowboy yesterday. Especially when most people think he’s gonna run right through him. 

But here’s the thing; it’s pretty tough to go three entire years without getting your hand raised and come into any room and starting telling a guy you’re gonna kill him. Or bounce his head off the canvas. Or snatch his soul. And it’s even harder to do that when you got choked the hell out the last time you ran that junk. So Conor is switching up. Is he humbled? I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t really care. Because nothing he said or did yesterday matters. The only thing that matters is Saturday night in Vegas. Because Conor isn’t just fighting for a paycheck—dude is fighting for his career. And he absolutely has to win this weekend. Because it becomes pretty hard to get people to keep showing up and shelling out for you if you can’t win. Just ask Ronda. Or Chuck. Or Tito. Or BJ. Or Rampage. Or Pettis. Or Aldo. Or Brock. 

When it goes it goes quick.

And by the look of it and by the sound of it—Conor can still be Conor. By all reports he’s in the best shape of his life. By his own admission he cut out alcohol during this camp—something he clearly didn’t do against Khabib. And he said yesterday that wants to get strapped up again and fight Masvidal for the BMF title and then go get some gold in whatever division makes the most sense.

But none of that happens if he doesn’t get past Cowboy on Saturday. And he should. But he cannot, for a second, get caught looking ahead. Because Cowboy isn’t some can off the couch. No one has won more fights than this guy in UFC history. And even though he’s in line for his biggest paycheck ever—you know he wants to shock the world and put Conor out. 

And he can do that if he gets the fight to the ground. Or survives the blitz Conor is gonna throw at him right from the glove tap in round 1. The longer this fight goes on, the better it is for Cowboy. Especially if he can mix in some kicks and wear down on Conor’s legs. 

Conor’s best weapon is that stick of dynamite in his left hand. And everyone fully expects him to come out throwing. I know they both promised a 5-rounder yesterday, but Conor doesn’t want that. No way. Dude will be looking to kill and kill quickly.

Because if he gets back on the left side of the column--then he’s in line to get some huge fights with some huge paydays after this weekend. So this is everything for him Saturday night. It’s the linchpin to an extremely lucrative comeback. And if you’re gonna take anything away from yesterday’s presser—take away the fact that Conor seems to know that better than anyone. Which is a huge step in the right direction for a guy who had no direction at all the last 36 months.