Jorge Masvidal, the number three ranked welterweight fighter in the UFC, has tipped Conor McGregor to be victorious on his return at UFC 246.
The pair have been embroiled in a war of words recently but Masvidal, nicknamed "Gamebred", has taken a break from the verbal barbs to praise the Irishman.
McGregor will make his comeback against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone on January 18 and Masvidal has given him his backing for a win early doors.
“It can go many ways,' he told ESPN, 'If (Cerrone) just comes out to fight it out, I see Conor winning within the first two rounds.
“Conor is great off the block. He's phenomenal off the start. Cowboy is a slow starter.
“Conor has tremendous speed and timing in the beginning, good power, so I think he can catch him early.”
However, it won’t be all plain-sailing, according to the 35-year-old American.
Masvidal believes McGregor will have a tougher bout if Cerrone comes out fighting.
“If Cowboy comes out to grapple like he has in the past with decent strikers and even good grapplers like Rick Story, who he was able to take down and create a lot of offence like that… if that Cowboy comes out, he can mix things up real nice.
“And then he can start to flow and get into his game of high kicks and punching and being tricky, like a dual-threat to Conor.”
Masvidal, who himself knocked out Cerrone in the first round back in 2017, will be hoping for a McGregor triumph, as a defeat would rule out the chances of a match-up with the 31-year-old.
“I would want that fight because it’s a big money fight,” he added.
“It’s a dude that’s two-time division champion, he has some impressive records, and he comes to fight.
“So in that aspect, yes. We’re gonna f***ing both sell out wherever we’re f***ing fighting at, and there’s gonna violence.
“But if the dude doesn’t want to fight, I’m not a bully. Go do your thing. If he doesn’t want this, I don’t give a f*** them.
“You don’t want to fight, you don’t want to fight, but don’t flirt with me. You either want it, or you don’t. Leave me the f*** alone if you don’t.”
As well as Masvidal, McGregor could also plump for a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
He hasn’t fought since losing to the Russian at the Octagon in 2018 at UFC 229 and will be out for revenge.
After losing, he tapped Khabib and mumbled ‘It’s only business”, before watching in amazement as his opponent sprung over the wall to start a mass brawl with his entourage.