Conor McGregor is back and showcasing the first fight of 2020 in the UFC, after announcing that he is throwing down fists with MMA tradesman Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. 

After what has seemed like endless speculation, hints and terrorizing callouts, the announcement has been made and the ‘Notorious’ will be trading leather with the ‘Cowboy’ on the 18th January in Las Vegas.

McGregor — who has been absent from the eight walls since his controversial defeat to Khabib in October 2018 — is relishing a return and is coining the fight as a spring box for another shot at Khabib.

Cerrone is on the other end of 30 and has stood the test of time through his 51 professional fights. However, this battle unfolds, the UFC veteran will have to be thinking about hanging up the gloves at some point.

The two veterans of the sport will surely pitch this as a hardened retirement battle for the loser, but who has gas left in the tank to come out of the octagon victorious? Both journeymen will have to dig deep in this curtain raiser to prove which fighter has age on his side.

McGregor’s Sabbatical

McGregor’s return to the UFC was a long time coming, and when it was announced he would step back into the octagon to lock horns with ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, it jolted UFC fans back into action. 

The Irish superstar has been absent from the octagon since his controversial and career-changing defeat against Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Russian dominated the showdown throughout and claimed the win in the fourth round after his trademark submission finished the Irishman.

Mayhem consumed post-match — when Khabib jumped the cage to confront Conor’s team in front of the millions watching. Both fighters received hefty fines and Khabib received a nine-month ban. 

McGregor’s absence from the ring has been for a handful of reasons, his legal battles ensued most of 2018 and personal issues have crippled the Irishman’s reputation and forced him to take a step back from the mainstream exposure.

McGregor might have thought his days in the Octagon were over after the loss to Khabib — and his time off only made matters worse. McGregor looked as he was fitting square pegs into round holes after his display in Las Vegas — and had little to no effect on Nurmagomedov. 

His time off has come with some positives. Some could argue he has been revitalised and fallen in love again with the sport that put the jewel into his MMA crown. The sabbatical has also given the UFC fighter time for composure and assessment of his next opponent fully.

Many believed his return might warrant another blockbuster opponent, Khabib rematch — Nate Diaz finally — possibly another Floyd Mayweather exhibition? Unfortunately, none of these options surfaced, and McGregor is standing the test of time against another craftsman of the sport, Donald Cerrone.

Cerrone The Journeyman

Donald Cerrone is a pillar to the sport of UFC, witnessing the ever-changing and evolving sport throughout the years. To call the Denver-born fighter a journeyman is an understatement — having the most wins and finishes in the UFC at the age of 36 — the American has put in his time to the sport.

Cerrone has always been as loyal as a dog when it comes to honouring a contract and will fight anywhere, anytime. This may be his overall legacy — the Cowboy who never got off the horse. 

Even though his age is catching up with him, Cerrone possess fuel to burn the fire still and will be conserving all his energy for the biggest bout of his career against McGregor.

Few fighters match Cerrone’s résumé of head-kick knockouts and time spent in the eight walls of death. 

You Win Some and Lose Some

The Conor McGregor era has seen some truly tantalising moments, from knocking out Aldo in just 13 seconds — to claiming a majority decision over rival Nate Diaz in a thrilling contest. Conor is far from a dull fighter, the Dublin born-brawler has injected some excitement into his fights.

With victory, there occasionally comes defeat and Conor McGregor is familiar with that sour taste also. 

Nate Diaz made a huge splash to the McGregor fight record in 2016 when the heavy favourite was defeated by a stunning submission in the second round. The Irishman was gracious in defeat and had to swallow the loss textured pill with the hope of a rematch.

Donald Struggles in Last Two

Donald Cerrone is no stranger to the fabled letter L next to his record and will be trying everything within his power to avoid another when January 18th comes around.

Cerrone is on a two-match losing streak, succumbing to defeat to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Ferguson stopped Cowboy after peppering his face with unforgiving strikes, forcing the doctor to call the fight in the second round.

Gaethje was up next in the highly anticipated matchup, but the ‘Highlight’ proved to be too powerful — scoring a first-round TKO win over Cerrone. 

Both fights have opened up debate on the Cowboy’s age and if he can put a five-round performance in against McGregor. Donald is no longer a spring chicken and sporting index mma prices  lean towards McGregor as the favourite to win.

Get Back on the Horse

Both fighters are coming off the back of losses and the magnitude of the fight is colossal for both parties. 

Cerrone has the advantage of not being absent from the octagon and McGregor has the advantage getting inside Cerrone’s head before the bout.

The ‘Cowboy’ has more possible ways to prevail over McGregor, possessing striking power, strong grappling skills and is very proficient at ending fights via submission.

‘The Notorious’ also relies heavily on his striking power and ends a majority of his fights with fists to his opponent’s face. 

Seeing Conor’s last victory was 2016, the Dubliner will be gunning to get the W under his belt for that all-important rematch with Khabib. 

Cerrone on the other hand will receive a handsome pay-day fighting the biggest name in the sport, and won’t succumb to McGregor easily. He has the most wins record in the UFC for a reason.

This spine-tingling fight is set for January 18th and both fighters will being approaching this bout with the same motivation and intensity to as the other for that all-important win. 

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