McGregor fancied to make winning return against Cerrone

Conor McGregor makes his eagerly awaited return to the octagon on January 18 when he goes head-to-head with Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in Las Vegas.

McGregor hasn’t fought in the UFC since his defeat against Khabib Nurmagomedov back in October 2018 and he is eager to make a winning return. Read on as we bring you our UFC 246 preview of McGregor’s comeback.

McGregor has a point to prove

‘The Notorious’ remains one of the UFC’s most marketable assets, but he can ill-afford to lose against Cerrone in January.

His defeat against Nurmagomedov took his record to 21-4 and he needs to bounce back if he’s to secure bigger fights further down the line.

The Irishman is believed to want to face Jorge Masvidal if he beats Cerrone, while a rematch against Nurmagomedov would undoubtedly appeal to both his ego and bank balance.

For that to happen he needs a dominating performance against Cerrone to lay down a marker for the rest of 2020.

Last chance saloon for Cowboy

Cerrone called out McGregor after beating Al Iaquinta earlier this year, but things have taken a downward turn for the 36-year-old since then.

Successive defeats against Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje suggest Cerrone may have taken his eye off the ball and he will be keen to rediscover his form against McGregor.

The fight is being staged at welterweight which could work in Cerrone’s favour, although McGregor did win on his last bout in this division back in 2016.

Cerrone is unlikely to be a pushover in this fight, but McGregor is strongly fancied to be too classy for his opponent.

The Nurmagomedov conundrum

It is fair to say that 2020 is a massive year for McGregor in terms of the legacy he will leave behind when he finally quits the UFC.

The Cerrone fight is likely to be a stepping stone to a match-up with Masvidal, with a grudge rematch against Nurmagomedov the ultimate target.

The Russian star has told McGregor he must earn the right to face him again, although a fight between the pair is undoubtedly his best chance of earning big money.

McGregor must first see off Cerrone’s challenge and it would be a major surprise if he failed to do just that.