“The Notorious” makes his long awaited return to the UFC Octagon tonight. It’s been just over a year since Conor knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in 40 seconds. Conor seemed to be back to stay, expressing his desire to fight 3 times in 2020. Unfortunately, there was a logjam at the top of the lightweight division, the pandemic hit and then there was speculation that Dana wouldn’t schedule Conor because he wanted the revenue from the massive crowds that McGregor brings. The Cowboy fight was such a tease. But now, he’s back. He’s fucking back.
This year does feel a little different though. Fight week hasn’t been the same. Not just because of the fans, but there hasn’t been the same fight promotion. Conor McGregor is the best fighter to self-promote fights since Muhammad Ali. He talks the talk and walks the walk. That’s just a fact. But this week, Conor has been calm, cool, collected, and there’s been no trash talk. The only thing that has been the same is that “Mystic Mac” has predicted a KO inside of 60 seconds. Quite the change from the last Dustin Poirier fight…
Conor shook Dustin’s hand and even helped him promote his hot sauce at the weigh ins yesterday. I don’t know, I’m all about respecting your opponent, but I would have killed for a fiery press conference and controversial face off after roughly 10 months of nothing of the sort in the UFC. I genuinely enjoy the fights better when there’s a little animosity there. You’re about to get punched in the face by another grown man for 25 minutes if the fight goes the distance. It’s natural to have some dislike there.
Some might say that’s a cause for concern. Some might say Conor has lost his edge, that money may have changed him and he’s not as hungry. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Conor McGregor is absolutely locked in. The Double Champ has undergone a transformation since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Last year, he knocked out Cowboy in less than a minute and embarrassed one of the most experienced fighters of all time. And now, he’s MORE disciplined, MORE conditioned. He spent 10 weeks in Portugal preparing for this fight. His entire team spent the camp there with him. He said it himself in an interview with Ariel Helwani, this has been his best camp by far. The last thing that Conor McGregor’s opponents wanted to see was for him to IMPROVE, especially someone who has already suffered a first round knockout to McGregor.
I’m so excited. It’s been too long. He reached the mountaintop when he beat Eddie Alvarez in late 2016. Since then, Conor has only had 2 fights since becoming the Champ Champ, but maybe it was necessary. He had the Khabib/bus episode, he lost focus. He started a family, sold some whiskey. Since then, he has taken a step back and realized that there was more work to do with his first love, the fight game. Time to show it. The demons are gone. The wait is over. Dana has starved us, but Conor McGregor returns tonight and the best is yet to come my friends. I know it. Tune in. He’s worth the price of admission.
images via Independent.ie