Conor McGregor would be "honoured" to do battle with Manny Pacquiao in what he believes would be a blockbuster first fight at the Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium.

McGregor will make his UFC return against Donald Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday, 15 months after he was beaten by Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last bout.

The 31-year-old Irishman is also hungry to don the boxing gloves again and has called out Floyd Mayweather Jr, who he stopped in the 10th round of their fight in August 2017, for a rematch.

McGregor this week revealed talks with another legendary veteran, Pacquiao, are ongoing and would relish the chance to do battle with the 41-year-old in 60,000 capacity Nevada venue that is still being constructed. 

"It will be hard to leave the MMA game fully but I think a boxing world title is a great aspiration to have," said the mixed martial arts superstar.

"What a feather in the cap it would be. I always want bigger and better and to reach for the stars.

"I would love the rematch with Floyd Mayweather and I know the Manny one is there whenever I want it."

He added: "I would be honoured and love to be the first combatant to fight in that arena and what a fight that would be against a small and powerful southpaw.

"We would have to figure out the weight we do it at but it interests me, no doubt."

The build-up to Conor McGregor's UFC return against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone on Saturday has been tame by the Irishman's usual standards, but there was still some interesting verbal sparring.

McGregor lost his last bout to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 and hopes a rematch will form part of a three-fight season, though the quality of his next opponents will no doubt depend on how he fares against the UFC's all-time wins leader Cerrone.

The outspoken Irishman was largely respectful of his veteran opponent in a pre-fight news conference on Wednesday, but he still delivered some stinging barbs in the lead up to their meeting.

We take a look at some of the best quotes ahead of this weekend's highly anticipated event in Las Vegas.

 

"YOU'RE STIFF AS A BOARD"

When it was confirmed Cerrone would be the man to take on McGregor in his comeback, an exchange between the two at the UFC's "Go Big" press conference in September 2015 was quickly brought out of the archives.

After then-interim featherweight champion McGregor said Rafael dos Anjos, at the time the lightweight champion with a defence against Cerrone lined up, would have a "celebration" if a fight between the two was agreed, Cowboy was unimpressed.

Cerrone: "Conor has no right going up to 55, there's no way, he's not going to stand a chance, we're too big for him, we're too strong. You can take your little English a** and get on."

McGregor: "You're too slow and too stiff. You're stiff as a board, I'd snap you in half and that's it. I see stiffness when I look in that 155-pound division. I feel like they're stuck in the mud almost. The featherweights hit like flyweights so it's nice down there just destroying them and killing that whole division. But I had my eye on that 155 division and I see them all stuck in the mud over there. Have I been wrong yet? No."

Cerrone: "You have a monster here at 45, [Jose] Aldo about to beat you're a**. You've beat nobody and you think you're gonna come into 155 and make a statement? Come on man, sit the f*** down."

McGregor: "Yeehaw!"

 

"I'D BEAT HIM WITH THE FLU"

McGregor will fight Cerrone at welterweight rather than returning to lightweight.

Asked why he did not make Cerrone's life more difficult by meeting him at 155 pounds, McGregor told ESPN: "I know, I could have. I just don't think he looks well at 155. He's a 170 fighter. I'd beat him at any weight. I'd beat him if I had the flu."

 

"MCGREGOR TO WIN BY KO"

While McGregor has revealed stories of him training with Tyson Fury were untrue, the former heavyweight boxing champion will be in attendance in Las Vegas to support the Irishman.

"Conor McGregor is gonna win. I say by knockout. And I'm gonna be there to see it happen cageside," Fury told Fight Hype.

 

"I'LL F*** YOU UP IN THE LOBBY"

Ahead of the pair taking to the stage for their pre-fight media conference, Cerrone warned McGregor, who has a penchant for cutting remarks while playing up to the crowd, against crossing the line.

Cerrone told MMA Fighting of McGregor's trash talking: "He's the best at it. He is the best. The thing is you'd really have to go low, talk about my grandma or my kid and then it would put it on another level. You understand what I'm saying? Then I'll just come f*** you up in the lobby type s***.

"I don't think it's ever going to go that way. He understands that. We're fighting, he can talk about that all he wants but don't low blow."

 

"ONE OF THE BIGGEST SUPERSTARS IN COMBAT SPORTS HISTORY"

McGregor may no longer be a champion and his return is not a title fight, but UFC president Dana White feels he brings something the organisation's biggest names do not.

White told reporters: "McGregor is one of the biggest superstars in combat sports history. You put McGregor with [Mike] Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, he's in that list of guys. He has the biggest pay per view in history, so he's a mega star and to have him is big.

"All these other fighters have done great things, if you look at what Weili Zhang has accomplished, Israel Adesanya has accomplished, [Kamaru] Usman ... there's different levels of guys doing great things but to compare them to Conor is a tough one."

 

"I CAN READ HIM LIKE A CHILDREN'S BOOK"

The pair shook hands ahead of a media conference on Wednesday that proved largely cordial, with McGregor stating he will win by knockout but there will be no bad blood. He did still deliver one stinging line, though.

McGregor said: "I like him and all, he's a good guy, but I can read Donald like a children's book, if we're being honest. He's a good fighter, he's got some good tricks up his sleeve. I know the tricks he has, I know what he's planning and what he hopes to achieve. But we're well prepared, and we'll see on the night. It's going to be a good night."

After the mass brawl that marred his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov and the subsequent ban and retirement, Conor McGregor is back in the UFC.

McGregor will go up against Donald Cerrone in a welterweight fight at UFC 246 in Las Vegas, which he hopes will be the first of three fights in 2020 – the ultimate goal being a rematch with Khabib.

But veteran fighter Cerrone, whose first professional mixed martial arts fight was almost 14 years ago, will be no walk over.

Ahead of the highly anticipated encounter, we look at the tale of the tape.

 

Conor McGregor

Nickname: The Notorious
Age: 31
Height: 175cm
Reach: 188cm
Leg reach: 102cm
Record: 21-4-0
Wins/losses by knockout: 18/0
Wins/losses by submission: 1/4
Wins/losses by decision: 2/0
Last three fights: Khabib Nurmagomedov (L - R4 submission), Eddie Alvarez (W - R2 KO), Nate Diaz (W - majority decision)
Fight night bonuses: Performance of the Night (6), Fight of the Night (2), Knockout of the Night (1)
Career highlight: Becoming the first man to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously, adding the lightweight belt to his featherweight championship.

Donald Cerrone

Nickname: Cowboy
Age: 36
Height: 185cm
Reach: 185cm
Leg reach: 103cm
Record: 36-13-0, 1NC
Wins/losses by knockout: 10/6
Wins/losses by submission: 17/1
Wins/losses by decision: 9/6
Last three fights: Justin Gaethje (L - R1 KO/TKO), Tony Ferguson (L - R2 TKO), Al Iaquinta (W - R5 unanimous decision)
Fight night bonuses: Performance of the Night (7), Fight of the Night (11), Knockout of the Night (3), Submission of the Night (2)
Career highlight: Becoming the UFC's all-time wins leader by beating Mike Perry at Fight Night Denver in November 2018. He now leads the way with 23.

Love him or hate him there is no way you can ignore Conor McGregor and Saturday marks his long-awaited return to the octagon at UFC 246.

It has been 15 months since McGregor's last bout ended in a submission defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a contest marred by an ugly post-fight brawl between the warring camps.

The charismatic Irishman, the first UFC fighter to hold belts in two divisions at the same time, is back, though, with veteran Donald Cerrone the opponent in Las Vegas.

Much has happened since McGregor's defeat to Khabib and below we take a look at the big questions ahead of his comeback.

 

What happened at UFC 229?

Oh boy…where do you start with this one? The build-up to this was fight was, let's dilute this a little, ugly. Back in April 2018, McGregor was involved in an attack on a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and other fighters. McGregor would eventually be forced to undertake community service and an anger management programme over the incident. So, naturally the scene was set for a red-hot build-up that had many barbs that crossed the line. After Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round the bad blood spilled over, with the Russian launching himself over the cage to fight members of his rival's team, leading to a mass melee. It was all rather unpleasant, unsavoury and unnecessary, and in truth not a great look for UFC.

What's happened since?

Well there was a retirement, a reversal on that decision, injury and an impressive body transformation. Not to mention plenty of sales of his Proper No. Twelve whiskey. And, unfortunately, there has been no escape from controversy. In March 2019, McGregor was arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery and criminal mischief 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, McGregor was fined €1,000 after pleading guilty to an assault of a man at a pub in Dublin.

Will he fight Khabib again?

The jury remains very much out on this one. McGregor, who slipped to a 21-4-0 MMA record after the defeat, tweeted "book my rematch for Moscow" after Khabib's successful return against Dustin Poirier last September. The big-talking Irishman set himself a lofty ambition of fighting three times in 2020 and McGregor previously stated he wanted to face the winner of the bout between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz, before going on to once again take on Khabib. Masvidal certainly looks a viable option following his victory over Diaz, whether the Khabib rematch gets sanctioned is another argument.

What is his style?

Lightning quick with ferocious power and incredible athleticism – McGregor is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats. A southpaw with awesome striking skills, one of McGregor's greatest traits is a unique fighting stance that suits both front-foot tactics and counter punching. He is not known for his ground game, which many pundits noted was crucial in his defeat to Khabib. 

Who is his opponent Cerrone?

Put simply, 'Cowboy' is a legend in MMA circles. No one boasts more UFC wins than Cerrone, who has earned legions of fans for his ability to thrill in the octagon. Never one to shirk a challenge, Cerrone has been in with the best of the best. But, 37 in March and coming into this fight on the back of consecutive defeats to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, it will be a tall order to overcome McGregor.

Why is the fight taking place at welterweight?

There was little shock when news broke McGregor was to fight Cerrone, though the fact the bout was to be contested in the 170lb division did raise some eyebrows – particularly given McGregor's stated desire for a rematch with lightweight king Khabib. UFC president Dana White explained McGregor's target for another dance with Khabib meant he was not keen on cutting to 155 twice. Both fighters are not particularly big welterweights, so it makes sense not to have go through the weight cut.

Is this fight make or break for McGregor?

When you bring the number of eyes, publicity and money as McGregor does no fight is ever make or break. But there is a feeling after several years of limited activity – since beating Eddie Alvarez in 2016 he has only fought Floyd Mayweather Jr in a lucrative boxing bout and Khabib – he needs to rediscover the fire that made him one of the UFC's greatest competitors. Win, lose or draw, McGregor will go again.

Conor McGregor says talks with Manny Pacquiao are "ongoing" after declaring his desire to fight for a boxing world title.

The Irishman is set to make his UFC return 15 months on from a submission defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov when he faces Donald Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday.

While McGregor, a former two-weight champion in UFC, has his immediate focus on the Octagon, he still fancies another crack at boxing having lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr in a blockbuster bout in August 2017.

A rematch with Mayweather remains a goal for McGregor, who said there are talks to face Pacquiao, the Filipino great having won the WBA Super world welterweight title in July.

"I would love that Floyd rematch. For what was in front of me I thought I done very well and with some slight adjustments I'd have done even better," McGregor said at a news conference ahead of UFC 246.

"I feel now I could take that victory. Manny Pacquiao, talks have been ongoing.

"For me, an aspiration of mine now also is to win a boxing world title. 

"I think that would be a phenomenal feather in the cap and something I look to achieve in the future and something I will achieve. 

"I'm back with my boxing coaches at Crumlin Boxing Club where I learnt to throw a punch. 

"They've sat me down on my punches, we've cleaned up some things and I'm feeling really confident in my boxing abilities. 

"It'd be an honour to come back into boxing."

Conor McGregor promised there would be blood spilled in his welterweight showdown with Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 on Saturday.

McGregor is returning to the octagon for the first time since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018, facing Cerrone in Las Vegas.

The Irishman and Cerrone were involved in a heated exchange during a news conference in 2015, but were far more respectful on Wednesday.

But McGregor (21-4) predicted a knockout victory, although he spoke of his respect for Cerrone.

"I've had my back and forth with Donald throughout the years," he said.

"The last time we spoke to each other or even saw each other would've been at that press conference many years ago. So much has changed since then.

"I was the interim featherweight world champion at the time and Donald predicted I wouldn't get through [Jose] Aldo. I got through Aldo. He predicted I was too small for the 155-pound division, I conquered that division.

"We've had a good back and forth myself and Donald and as time has gone on he's become a family man, obviously you've seen him compete so many times it's hard not to respect Donald right now at this stage and he has my respect.

"Although there will be blood spilled on January 18, it will not be bad blood and for the Mystic Mac prediction, it will be a KO."

Cerrone is excited about facing McGregor and said it would be the biggest challenge of his career so far.

"I'm looking forward to four or five rounds of battling with this dude man," he said.

"I don't want anything easy … it's good to be in there with him and really get in there and f****** giving it all we've got. I'm going five rounds with this dude, I cannot f****** wait until Saturday night."

He added: "He's the two-time belt holding champ so you can definitely say that this is to date the toughest battle I've stepped in against and I'm stoked.

"'Cowboy, can you fight the big fight? You never make it on the big fight.' Well, motherf*****, here's the biggest one, let's see."

Tyson Fury predicts Conor McGregor will knockout Donald Cerrone when he makes his return at UFC 246 on Saturday.

McGregor will feature in the octagon for the first time since his October 2018 defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a lightweight title bout that was overshadowed by a post-fight melee outside the cage.

Fury is looking forward to watching the former featherweight and lightweight champion take on Cerrone, the UFC's all-time wins leader, up close in Las Vegas.

Unbeaten boxer Fury, who will attend the bout, believes McGregor will experience a triumphant comeback.

"Conor McGregor is gonna win. I say by knockout. And I'm gonna be there to see it happen cageside," Fury told Fight Hype.

Before entering the octagon, McGregor and Cerrone will first meet on stage at a media event on Wednesday.

The outspoken Irishman has a reputation for making cutting remarks at such occasions, but Cerrone insists it would take a "low blow" to have any effect on him.

However, should Cerrone feel that McGregor crosses the line, he may not be able to wait until the weekend to lay hands on him.

"He's the best at it. He is the best," Cerrone said of McGregor's trash talk.

"The thing is you'd really have to go low, talk about my grandma or my kid and then it would put it on another level.

"You understand what I’m saying? Then I'll just come f*** you up in the lobby type s***.

"I don't think it's ever going to go that way. He understands that. We're fighting, he can talk about that all he wants but don't low blow."

Conor McGregor is confident he will achieve billionaire status by the time he is 35 and wants to fight at the highest level for many more years.

The 31-year-old makes his UFC return in Las Vegas on Saturday against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone, as he looks for a first win since his victory over Eddie Alvarez back in November 2016.

McGregor revealed he is not a reckless spender anymore and with the combination of his fight earnings, endorsements and his own ventures such as clothing and whiskey ranges, he expects his wealth to reach 10 figures.

Asked by ESPN if he would fight until he was 40, McGregor said: "Yeah! I don't know, probably. I'm going to have a solid couple of years at least though, I know that. I'll be rocking until a good 35.

"I'll be a billionaire by the time I'm 35."

McGregor expects to achieve the biggest purse of his UFC career against Cowboy, with $80million the figure he has in mind.

He believes his $5m guaranteed purse against Cowboy, which is still a record for a UFC fighter, will be comprehensively eclipsed.

"It's going to be a good pay cheque," he said. "Probably the most ever in my mixed martial arts career. I'm estimating a good $80m.

"We have Australia, Canada and England and Ireland, so it should be a good one.

"[I made] $50m [against Khabib Nurmagomedov]. They think I'm toast but I'm still the bread.

"But no amount of money will stop my hunger to compete and entertain. Long may the opponents continue to come and I'll continue to knock them down."

The Irishman vowed to never forget his roots, having come from a life on welfare to achieve astonishing financial success.

McGregor said: "Of course I make sure I stay to my roots always and keep where I come from in my way of thinking. Never forget.

"I spend a lot less. I have a lot of things. About a year ago I read LeBron James had spent $1.5million annual on his health, his nutrition, training, everything and I spend nothing.

"Only in camp [did I spend] to bring a team together. So I thought that was not the way to do this, I drop money on a bleeding car or a watch!

"So now I'm spending on my health and my fitness, and that helped me. Then you can acquire even more when you are sharp.

"I spend less on possessions now, though you've got to go through that [phase] when you get a windfall. It doesn't excite me now. I'm more interested in creating."

Asked if he reads lists of the highest-paid athletes, McGregor added: "That's my list, I'm coming for that list! It alternates by year, not sure where I was this year, but not bad, I was up there. 

"The decade one I saw Floyd Mayweather was top of the decade, so fair play to him, he's just not so good at the management of it.

"I'm still a good way away [from a billion]. I'll get there. I've got the methods. It's something that excites me, but it's not why I fight. I'm involved in so many businesses but there is no business like the fight business."

Conor McGregor has admitted his preparation for fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last UFC outing was far from ideal given he spent "all bleeding week" downing shots of whiskey.

The Irishman fell to a convincing submission defeat against the Russian in the fourth round of their October 2018 battle in the Octagon at UFC 229, a contest that was followed by a controversial brawl.

But ahead of his comeback against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday, McGregor acknowledged he had enjoyed himself a little too much in the build-up to the Khabib bout, as well as taking part in a reckless sparring routine.

"I was drinking all bleeding fight week in the last one," McGregor told ESPN. 

"Yes [it was before the fight]. It [drinking in fight week] had not been [common] to that extent before. I had venom in me or something. I don't know why.

"I was almost too intense and too serious, working too hard in the gym and then not working hard enough outside of it. You've got to be focused outside. 

"You're not as sharp, not as fresh, not as eager to be there [at the gym]. That kept happening, I wouldn't want to be there, then I'd have to scrap, and then off I'd go again. 

"You learn something from everything, some of the work was great. Some parts of it were enjoyable, I do love a good scrap, I've just got to stay focused outside the gym."

Pressed further on his preparation, the 31-year-old added: "I had people holed up in a hotel and I would ring and arrange a fight, they would come to the gym and have a full-blown fight with no headguards.

"I'd have a war, win and knock the guy out and go off and celebrate and come back in three days.

"I wasn't doing what I should have been doing or living the life I should have been living; I've made mistakes and I've been man enough to admit them and correct them."

On Khabib, who has said McGregor needs a long run of wins before being worthy of a second bout, the Dubliner added: "He has fear, he doesn't want [the rematch]. It did get very personal. Some of the things were maybe too far but it's the fight business."

McGregor has also lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr in a lucrative boxing match since his last victory, which came at UFC 205 against Eddie Alvarez more than three years ago.

Punching a 50-year-old man in a pub last year led to a court appearance and a fine but McGregor says he has turned his life around.

He added: "If I'm in the wrong, I'm in the wrong. I let people down and that's it. I'm in a position where I must take control of things and not shy away.

"I've never done that in my career and I never will; the people who believe in me and support me deserve better. It's been a good couple of months, three or four months ago [since I had a drink]. 

"I might not be perfect, but with a good sleep and a full belly I'm damn close."

Floyd Mayweather Jr's manager suggested the legendary boxer would be up for fighting Conor McGregor again after the Irishman declared he would win a rematch.

Mayweather stopped McGregor in the 10th round when the UFC superstar made his professional boxing debut in August 2017.

The unbeaten Mayweather retired for the third time after that bout, but announced last November that he would resume his career yet again in 2020 for a "spectacular event".

McGregor will make his UFC comeback against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone on Saturday and the 31-year-old Dubliner took the opportunity to call out Mayweather prior to the fight.

He told told Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on ESPN: "Most certainly, I'd like to rematch Floyd. I think we should rematch Floyd.

"He keeps flirting with it [coming out of retirement] and he can go and pick someone else but it's not going to be the same. I did phenomenal in that fight and the only reason I lost that bout was because I prepared for a back-foot style of opponent.

"And when the fight was like that I was picking him apart. Then he came forward and started pressing and I wasn't sinking into my shots like I am now with my boxing coaches.

"I know I'd beat Floyd if we rematched. When we rematch. It's not going to be a mixed martial arts bout like he said. It was supposed to be me boxing then we'll do a mixed martial arts bout.

"It wasn't written but it was verbal. But that's not going to happen and I'm not even going to push him on it."

Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's boss, tweeted in reply to a video of the interview: "@TheNotoriousMMA are you really sure about that champ, you know we can make that happen, asking for a friend?"

UFC insiders believe Conor McGregor is in the best shape of his career before his battle against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Las Vegas.

McGregor will fight for the first time since his controversial defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 when he takes on Cowboy on Saturday.

The Irishman has previously trained for mega-bouts against Khabib, Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez as well as a lucrative boxing duel with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But UFC president Dana White has received word that McGregor has never been in a condition as good as he is for his contest with Cowboy.

Victory could propel McGregor to fights against Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal or potentially a rematch with Khabib. 

White has suggsted he could not be better prepared with regard to his fitness, telling TMZ: "I'm hearing he's in phenomenal shape right now.

"The UFC doctor is actually saying he thinks Conor is in the best shape he's ever seen him in. His head seems to be in the right place."

McGregor has been rated as comfortable favourite for the fight against Cowboy, who has lost six of his 10 contests since the start of 2017.

But White warned against anyone expecting Cowboy, who at 36 is five years older than McGregor, to be an easy opponent for the Dubliner, particularly given his recent hiatus from the Octagon. 

"I think that the level of disrespect shown to Cowboy Cerrone by the media, a lot of the fans, and definitely the sports books in Las Vegas, is insanity," continued White.

"And ring rust is real – I believe in it. We'll see how that goes. It's a very interesting fight with two of the baddest in the business to ever do it and this is a fun one."

McGregor was not heeding White's warning at the weekend, insisting he could beat his opponent at any weight, even if he "had the flu".

He said he agreed to fight Cerrone at 170lb because the veteran "does not look well" at 155lb, which is the weight he would need to return to if he ever fights Khabib again.

Welterweight champion Usman and Masvidal, meanwhile, are in the 170lb division.

White added: "Cerrone has fought at 170 many times and is comfortable at 170. Conor McGregor will probably weigh in at 169 or 168 or somewhere around there. It's even hard for Conor to hit 170. 

"Obviously, Conor's been out for a while. Conor has fought two times at 170. He's got a win and a loss at 170. Cowboy Cerrone has gone on these two-fight skids before and come back - he is almost one of those guys that needs something big to fight for.

"It's more than just the money, all the things that go along with it. This is the type of fight that Cowboy Cerrone is an absolute spoiler in. This is his deal. These are the type of fights he likes to be in."

Conor McGregor believes Donald Cerrone looks better at 170 pounds but claimed he could beat his UFC 246 opponent at any weight, even if he had the flu.

Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor will make his return to the octagon next Saturday, having not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in an October 2018 clash that was overshadowed by a post-bout brawl.

Upon announcing his return from retirement, the Irishman said he was planning three fights in 2020, with Jorge Masvidal – due to his victory over Nate Diaz to clinch the BMF title – and Nurmagomedov his primary targets.

McGregor has also spoken of an interest in taking on UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after opting to make his return at 170lbs, which he feels is more comfortable for Cerrone.

Asked why he did not decide on a lightweight bout and make things difficult for Cerrone, McGregor told ESPN: "I know, I could have. I just don't think he looks well at 155. He's a 170 fighter.

"I'd beat him at any weight. I'd beat him if I had the flu. I don't need that. I just want to focus on my training and keep myself sharp. I don't want to cut and then build and then cut. I'm happy where I’m at.

"Also 170 is an exciting one for me. I like 170. I like what's going on in the 170 division at the minute.

"You've got Jorge with that [BMF] belt, you've got the other guys fighting for the [championship] belt. I like all of what's going on at 170, and I feel good at 170. I feel energetic – it's what I weigh and that's it. It opens up so many more options, right?"

A potential rematch against Nurmagomedov is unlikely to take place outside of the lightweight division, which McGregor assured is no problem.

He added: "I'm not done at 155, I could make 155 this fight no problem, but I just want to go in fresh and as it is, let the fight play as it is and open up all my options."

Conor McGregor says a fight against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman would be his priority ahead of a bout with Jorge Masvidal.

The Irishman returns to the Octagon against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone at UFC 246 in January.

A rematch against lightweight world champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is also on McGregor's agenda further down the line.

But if he gets past Cerrone – who is nicknamed 'Cowboy' - the prospect of becoming a three-weight champion is more appealing to former featherweight and lightweight title-holder McGregor than a meeting with Masvidal.

"I'm not going to 170 just for Jorge," McGregor said to the Mac Life about Masvidal, who defeated Nate Diaz last year when their fight was stopped due to a cut.

"I'd face Jorge. He hasn't really got anything. I wasn't really that happy with how that bad motherf***** thing ended. 

"I think it's unfinished [with Diaz]. In my opinion, that bout is unfinished. It was only getting into a good bout, I believe. We were robbed of rounds 4 and 5 in that bout.

"But I like that welterweight belt. I liked that welterweight title fight that was on at the weekend, I liked the look of that. I liked the look of Kamaru Usman. I liked the look of Colby [Covington]. 

"I'm open to it all at 170. Gold and I'd say silver because that bad motherf***** belt is a silver one, it's not the best-looking belt. 

"I don't really care about that, I want the gold. I'm after the gold, 155 and 170. They're the belts I am chasing now."

Usman, who has only lost once in 17 fights, was unimpressed by McGregor's suggestion.

The Nigerian responded on Twitter, writing to McGregor: "My man, please just go in there and take your L from Cowboy. Don't even dream of this WW strap because that dream can turn into a nightmare fast."

Earlier this week, UFC president Dana White said he thinks it is "a bad idea" for McGregor to chase a fight with Masvidal.

Masvidal challenged McGregor in November, while Khabib has mocked his former foe's meeting with Cowboy, calling it a "minor league" fight due to the pair's lacklustre recent records.

But McGregor thinks his skills are being overlooked because of his inactivity, having lost to Khabib in his only UFC contest since knocking out Eddie Alvarez in November 2016.

"A lot of people forget about my skill base," he said. 

"I'm going to go in there and remind them. I don't feel these people are on my level when I am committed. I have not been committed for a while, up until about a year ago when I really started committing myself. 

"I look forward to showcasing my skills to the people."

The evolving world of sport means a new decade is likely to see widespread change.

With superstars like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to be plying their trades in 2030, the stage is set for new names to come to the fore.

Omnisport's team of writers have tipped 20 20-year-olds to do just that over the next 10 years.

 

Men's football: Joao Felix

A €126m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid made Joao Felix the second most expensive teenager in football history. His career in LaLiga is yet to truly ignite but the forward's lavish gifts are beyond doubt as he faces up to the decade when Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the stage for their native Portugal. Joao Felix is the anointed heir.

Basketball: Luka Doncic

The 2018 EuroLeague MVP and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Doncic's incredible rise has continued unchecked this season – he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists for the Dallas Mavericks. He should earn a first All-Star appearance this season and make his bow in the playoffs, where you would expect to see him featuring regularly in the coming years.

Cricket: Prithvi Shaw

Opening batsman Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a Test hundred on debut in 2018 and followed that up with a half-century in his second appearance. However, last year was one to forget for Shaw, who had injury problems before serving a six-month doping ban having taken a substance typically found in cough syrups. A first-class double hundred last month suggests he is ready to make up for lost time.

Tennis: Marketa Vondrousova

Although she was unable to win a title on the WTA Tour in 2019, Vondrousova was the runner-up at the French Open – one of three final appearances last year – and having risen to 16th in the world rankings she looks set to break the top 10 soon. The Czech's unorthodox playing style and penchant for drop shots makes her a particularly entertaining watch.

Formula One: Lando Norris

Norris enjoyed an excellent debut season in Formula One, helping McLaren to an impressive fourth place in the constructors' championship. After landing three straight points finishes to end the year, he carries momentum into 2020 and looks capable of challenging Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over the next 10 years.

UFC: Chase Hooper

Featherweight Hooper was awarded a development deal after winning the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018 and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He improved his unbeaten mixed martial arts record to 8-0-1 by stopping David Teymur in the first round of a thoroughly impressive UFC debut in December.

American football: Trevor Lawrence

The NFL is blessed with talented young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, but the potential star of the 2020s will not enter the league until 2021 at the earliest. Clemson's Lawrence possess the size, skill and nerve to succeed at the next level. He is still yet to lose a game in college and is one win away from back-to-back National Championships.

Sport climbing: Janja Garnbret

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and Garnbret is a favourite for success. She successfully defended her bouldering and combined titles at last year's world championships and added gold in the lead discipline. The Slovenian's tally of 14 International Federation of Sport Climbing titles is unprecedented.

Rugby league: Tom Flegler

Front-rower Flegler enjoyed a hugely promising breakthrough year with Brisbane Broncos in 2019, featuring 23 times in his maiden campaign. He has reportedly knocked back a host of lucrative offers to remain with Brisbane in 2020 and will now aim to make an even bigger impact.

Women's football: Georgia Stanway

Vastly experienced for her age, Stanway joined Manchester City from Blackburn Rovers and made her Women's Super League debut at 16 in 2015. She won her second FA Cup with a goalscoring player-of-the-match display as City beat West Ham 3-0 in 2019's Wembley final and was the youngest member of an England squad Phil Neville led to the World Cup semi-finals. If the Lionesses are to take the next step over the coming decade, expect Stanway to play a vital role.

Rugby union: Marcus Smith

Harlequins fly-half Smith is knocking on the door for full England selection after an impressive first two years of his club career. He was man of the match in last July's win over Barbarians, which fans of Eddie Jones' side will hope is a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Golf: Matthew Wolff

The PGA Tour welcomed a host of talented rookies in 2019, but Wolff may just be the best of the bunch. A standout college player with an unorthodox swing that generates enormous power, he won last July's 3M Open in only his third professional start.

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo

After Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to defeat Marc Marquez in a MotoGP world championship, retired, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his career, fans are looking to the next generation. That group looks set to be led by Quartararo, who will ride a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 after claiming six pole positions and seven podiums in a magnificent rookie season.

Golf: Nasa Hataoka

Already fifth in the women's world rankings, Hataoka has claimed three LPGA Tour titles in the past 18 months, after becoming the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour back in 2016.

Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jnr

Guerrero has a lot to live up to but has already shown enough to suggest he may follow his father into baseball's Hall of Fame. Having signed for the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2015, Guerrero served his time in the minors before making his debut in the Major Leagues last April. He spent the rest of his maiden season displaying the kind of power that has marked him out as a star of the future, hitting .272, mashing 15 home runs and knocking in 69 RBI. By the end of the next decade, his may well be the face of baseball.

Ice Hockey: Quinn Hughes

Hughes, who could not even debut for the Vancouver Canucks until he recovered from an ankle injury in March, is an elite defenseman who also sat top of the rookie assist chart in late December.

Swimming: Michael Andrew

This year is an Olympic one and for the first time since the 1996 Games, Michael Phelps will not be in the pool. The United States needs a new swimming hero, and the hope is that Phelps' namesake can be the next star. Andrew was the youngest US swimmer to ever turn professional when he did so at 14 and, having finished fourth in the 50 metres butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, he appears primed to be a breakout star in Tokyo.

Tennis: Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov finished 2019 at a career-high ATP ranking of 15th, having won his first title in Stockholm. Expect his threat at the 2020 majors to be very real.

Athletics: Sydney McLaughlin

At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, gold in the 4x400 metres relay followed silver in the 400m hurdles for McLaughlin. Only a Dalilah Muhammad world record was enough to deny her the victory.

Boxing: Joseph Adorno

Currently plying his trade in the lightweight division, Adorno was brought up in Puerto Rico and his thunderous left hook has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cotto – the great four-weight world champion hailing from that boxing-mad island. Promoters Top Rank will look to step up Adorno's level of opposition in 2020, although anyone climbing into the corner opposite a young man boasting a 14-0 record with 12 knockouts should make sure they get well paid.

UFC president Dana White thinks it is "a bad idea" for Conor McGregor to chase a fight with Jorge Masvidal.

McGregor will make his return to the octagon after over a year away when he takes on Donald Cerrone at welterweight at UFC 246 on January 18.

Announcing his comeback in October, the Irishman said he wanted to fight the victor of Masvidal's UFC 244 bout with Nate Diaz – which the former won with a third-round TKO – before a rematch with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to close his 2020 season.

However, White has urged McGregor to reconsider his desire to take on Masvidal.

"I think it's a bad idea, but Conor gets p****d off when I say it is a bad idea. He's like, 'You think I can't beat Masvidal?', and that whole thing," White told ESPN.

"I'm not saying that you can't beat Masvidal, anybody can beat anybody on any given day, but why? Why go after that fight when you could possibly just wait?

"This is the reason that Conor McGregor is so intriguing and why so many fans love to watch him fight. And you've got to love the fact that a guy is willing to fight anybody.

"I've said this a million times, I'll say it again, I've been in the trenches and when we're standing in the living room and fights pull out, Conor McGregor will fight anybody."

Masvidal's victory over Diaz earned him the new BMF title, which White thinks is behind McGregor's desire for the bout.

"Conor wants that belt from Masvidal," said White. "I did it as a one-off, it was fun, it was awesome. We'll see what happens."

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.