The wait is almost over as Conor McGregor makes the final preparations for his return to the Octagon for the first time in 15 months.
His January 18 bout with Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone will headline UFC 246 in Las Vegas, making the fight one of the first must-watch events of 2020, as the Irishman steamrolls his way into the new decade.
The 'Notorious' hasn’t featured in a UFC bout since submitting to Khabib Nurmagomedov in their October 2018 grudge match, but McGregor has now completed his last heavy spar before travelling to Nevada for his UFC comeback.
But Cerrone shouldn’t expect a repeat of the events that occurred at the tail-end of 2018, and the American has good reason to be worried. According to McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh, the former featherweight and lightweight champion is in the best shape he has ever seen the mixed martial artist.
With a little under three weeks to go, Kavanagh has taken to social media to salute 31-year-old McGregor’s transformation, with the suggestion that Cerrone is unfortunate to be facing him as the first hurdle in his comeback. McGregor's coach reckons his man is now a real force to be reckoned with as he eyes the prize of regaining his belts from Nurmagomedov.
"Jan 1st, last heavy spar today before going to Vegas. Can honestly say this is the best I've seen him and I wasn't sure that was possible to do 6 months ago,” Cavanagh has declared,
You guys are in for a real treat
"I'm just glad to have a good seat! #UFC246.”
Cavanagh knows what he’s talking about - the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist has helped hone the talents of such stellar fighters as McGregor, Makwan Amirkhani, and Gunnar Nelson, as well as being the recipient of the World MMA Awards Coach of the Year in 2017. He’ll be in McGregor’s corner once again as he faces the American Cerrone in what is hopefully one of the sporting highlights of the new year.
Cerrone, five years McGregor’s senior and with a height advantage of two inches, possesses a 36-13-0 record. However, he enters the Octagon on the back of consecutive losses to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, respectively.
There’s been distinctly far less noise coming out of McGregor’s camp in contrast to the blockbuster bouts of the recent past, namely Nurmagomedov, Nate Diaz , José Aldo, and his foray into the world of boxing to face Floyd Mayweather.
This upcoming return is an attempt at a turnaround for what has been a humbling and often difficult year for the Irishman, which saw him being arrested twice, and the once notoriously outspoken McGregor has been somewhat quietened.
There’s a feeling that things are about to get a whole lot louder in 2020...