Conor McGregor announces Jan. 18 UFC comeback, wants ‘BMF’ title winner before rematch with “cowering” Khabib Nurmagomedov
At a press conference in Moscow on Thursday morning, Conor McGregor declared that a “fully focused Conor McGregor” would return to the UFC octagon on 18 January 2020 at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. McGregor gave the media no hints as to who he plans to fight twelve weeks from this Saturday but asserted, “This date is agreed. I don’t care who will be my opponent”. The Irishman has not fought since his submission loss to bitter rival Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018.
McGregor described the return as “the beginning of my season”. Ariel Helwani has reported that Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje are the most likely opponents, with ‘Cowboy’ being the favoured option. Cerrone has responded to the speculation with a teasing Instagram post, making his intentions of signing the dotted line clear.
Gaethje would pounce at the opportunity of welcoming McGregor back to the octagon. Gaethje has ruthlessly called out McGregor on multiple occasions, calling him “a s**t human, father and husband”.
After the proposed January bout, McGregor wants to fight the winner of the ‘baddest motherf***er’ belt. When Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal compete for the inaugural title at UFC 244 McGregor believes that “Nate will get the better of that one”. This potentially means that UFC fans could be treated to the pair’s long-awaited trilogy bout in the near future. The UFC 244 headliner may be in jeopardy however after Diaz claimed he failed a USADA drug test. We will see in the coming day how this one plays out, but McGregor’s dream bout with Diaz may not come to fruition in January.
‘The War is Far From Over’
There is one clear motivator for the potential Conor McGregor return, settling his “heated rivalry” with Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor believes that the rematch is the battle all UFC fans want to see.
“We want this bout in Moscow, the people of Russia deserve this bout to take place, the people of the world deserve this bout to take place. It is an inevitable rematch.”
Nurmagomedov beat McGregor via Neck Crack in the fourth round of their first bout. Despite this, McGregor believes that ‘The Eagle’ is “running” from his challenge.
“He is afraid of the Moscow bout for whatever reason. I’m not sure, does he represent Russia? I’m not sure if he does represent Russia. I have never seen the man represent Russia in my life. Have you ever seen the man raise a Russian flag like I raise the Irish flag, with pride? I have never seen it once in my life. He is running from the bout in Moscow. The public want it, the people want it, his own father wants it. He does not want it… He is afraid of risk. A man who fears risk will conquer nothing long lasting; there will be no longevity in his career as he does not take risk at all.”
Will it Happen?
Although the Irishman was emphatic in his announcement, Dana White has cast doubt on the validity of McGregor’s claims. White has stated that “No deals are even close to being signed”, as reported by Brett Okamoto.
Considering the fact that only one day prior to this fight announcement McGregor himself stated he wanted to compete in a charity bout in December, it is incredibly difficult to find where the truth lies in his statements. This follows the former-double champion targetting Frankie Edgar on twitter, a bout which Dana White has refused to make. Although it is clear that McGregor is itching for a return to mixed martial arts, there are certainly no guarantees that the Conor McGregor return will happen soon.
The primary reasons for this are the criminal allegations that McGregor may face. The New York Times purported that McGregor is being investigated for a sexual assault allegation, which would be his second case in less than twelve months. The Crumlin native is no stranger to legal incidents, with a string of ‘outside the cage’ events being the main reason he has remained in the headlines since his last UFC cameo. It is possible that this announcement is a PR move in order to shift the focus off of McGregor’s troubles.
McGregor was however adamant that he was doing everything in his power to return to the cage “fully focused … sharp, fresh, no injuries, no alcohol, no outside influences” – to give the fans what they “deserve”. The 31-year-old appears to be taking responsibility for his distractions from martial arts and will be hoping to regain the glory that made him one of the biggest sports-stars alive.
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