Las Vegas, January 19: Conor McGregor needed just 40 seconds to make a triumphant return to the octagon after a brutal TKO against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.
McGregor – fighting for the first time in 15 months – was relentless in the octagon, dropping Cerrone inside the opening round in Las Vegas on Saturday (January 18).
After striking Cerrone with his shoulder, McGregor then delivered a devastating kick to the head before a flurry of punches prompted the referee to stop the welterweight bout and main event.
McGregor made his long-awaited return after a 15-month absence since his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The Irish star's time away from mixed martial arts started with a six-month ban imposed after a post-fight brawl outside the cage marred his blockbuster showdown with Khabib at UFC 229, and there was no escape from controversy in the intervening period.
McGregor was arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery and criminal mischief last March after it was alleged he took a man's phone and smashed it on the ground in Miami – the charges were later dropped over inconsistencies in the victim's testimony. In November, he was fined €1,000 after pleading guilty to an assault of a man at a pub in Dublin.
There were question marks over McGregor, but the UFC sensation strolled into the octagon with confidence against the 36-year-old Cerrone.
McGregor – typically a fast starter – raced out of the blocks and wasted little time as he required less than a minute to celebrate victory upon his return.
Also on the main card, Holly Holm earned a decision win in her women's bantamweight rematch against Raquel Pennington in the co-main event. Meanhwile, the other three bouts on the main card ended in submission wins for Aleksei Olenik, Brian Kelleher and Diego Ferreria.
In the preliminary card, there were wins for Roxanne Modafferi, Sodiq Yusuff, Askar Askarov, Drew Dober, Aleksa Camur and Sabina Mazo.
Here are the final results of UFC 246:
1. Welterweight bout: Conor McGregor defeated Donald Cerrone by TKO (punches) - Round 1, 0:40
2. Women's Bantamweight bout: Holly Holm defeated Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
3. Heavyweight bout: Aleksei Oleinik defeated Maurice Greene by submission (armbar) - Round 2, 4:38
4. Bantamweight bout: Brian Kelleher defeated Ode Osbourne by submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 2:45
5. Lightweight bout: Diego Ferreira defeated Anthony Pettis by submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 1:46
1. Women's Flyweight bout: Roxanne Modafferi defeated Maycee Barber by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
2. Featherweight bout: Sodiq Yusuff defeated Andre Fili by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
3. Flyweight bout: Askar Askarov defeated Tim Elliott by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
4. Lightweight bout: Drew Dober defeated Nasrat Haqparast by TKO (punches) - Round 1, 1:10
5. Light Heavyweight bout: Aleksa Camur defeated Justin Ledet by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
6. Women's Flyweight bout: Sabina Mazo defeated J.J. Aldrich by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
(With OPTA inputs)