Sports

McGregor demolishes Cerrone in 40 secs

Former two-division champion Conor McGregor returned to the Octagon with a stunning knockout of Donald Cerrone in under a minute at UFC 246 yesterday morning (Singapore time) in his first fight since losing a lightweight title bout to Khabib Nurmagomedov 15 months ago.

The 31-year-old Irishman left "Cowboy" Cerrone bloodied just seconds into the fight in Las Vegas by ramming shoulders into his face from the clinch, and when they broke, McGregor landed a head kick that wobbled the American and sent him scrambling back to the cage.

McGregor closed in and rained down strikes as Cerrone covered up, prompting referee Herb Dean to stop the fight after just 40 seconds.

McGregor served a six-month suspension and was fined US$50,000 (S$67,000) for his role in a brawl at the end of his loss to Nurmagomedov.

After his long absence, McGregor was glad to be back.

"I feel really good, but I came out of here unscathed. I'm in shape. We've got work to do to get back to where I was," he said in his post-fight interview.

Cerrone had made his name by going toe-to-toe with some of the heaviest hitters in the UFC, giving fans the fights they want to see, but he was caught cold by McGregor's unorthodox shoulder strikes.

"I had never seen anything like that," Cerrone said. "It threw me way off-guard. He busted my nose and it started bleeding and then he stepped back and head kicked me."

Despite a third straight defeat, the 36-year-old said he had no plans to retire.

McGregor has planned to have three UFC fights this year and also revealed he has a lucrative boxing match against Manny Pacquiao in the pipeline. - REUTERS

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)