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Conor McGregor Resets, Recalibrates

Former Double Champ Has A New Set Of Goals That Begin Saturday At UFC 257

Conor McGregor’s lone fight of 2020 couldn’t have gone any better.

In his first bout since an October 2018 loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, “The Notorious” one took only 40 seconds to dispatch Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone before a crowd of over 19,000 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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“I would take out anyone across 155 or 170 at that time,” he said of his thoughts after his 22nd professional victory. And he planned on hitting those marks by staying busy and getting back to the point of winning a third divisional world title.

UFC 257: Conor McGregor Sits Down With Megan Olivi
UFC 257: Conor McGregor Sits Down With Megan Olivi
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Yet by June, McGregor announced his retirement, and while he stayed active on social media with his comments about various fights and fighters, he wasn’t the one making the walk to the Octagon.

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Who could blame him? Money wasn’t an issue, though the COVID-19 pandemic made fighting with the capacity crowds he always delivered an impossibility, and maybe, just maybe, he needed to get the fire back. And ultimately, it returned, along with McGregor, who kicks off 2021 with a UFC 257 rematch against Dustin Poirier on Saturday.

Fighter Timeline: Dustin Poirier & Conor McGregor
Fighter Timeline: Dustin Poirier & Conor McGregor
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“It’s about recalibrating and resetting your goals,” McGregor said. “I’ve got a lot more things I want to achieve in this world, and the fire is certainly lit in my belly.”

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That doesn’t mean it’s the usual McGregor mania in terms of bad blood, trash talk and hard feelings. As in the lead-up to the Cerrone fight, this is a kinder, gentler McGregor as he prepares to do battle with “The Diamond.”

UFC 257 Pre-Fight Press Conference Highlights
UFC 257 Pre-Fight Press Conference Highlights
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“We’re a lot more grown, a lot more experienced,” said McGregor. “We’ve gone the way we’ve went and we’ve gathered a lot of experience, so it’s gonna make for an interesting contest.”

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor 2 – Greatness Is Still Levels Below Me | Order UFC 257

The first one in September 2014 was an interesting contest until McGregor took the drama out of it at 1:46 of the first round. It was a shocking result as the Irishman continued on his way to titles in the featherweight and lightweight divisions while Poirier was forced to regroup, ultimately deciding to move back to the 155-pound weight class where this weekend’s war will be waged.

Top Finishes: Conor McGregor
Top Finishes: Conor McGregor
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“I like Dustin,” said McGregor. “I did back then, I do now. He’s a good fighter, he’s even a great fighter. But great is still levels below me. What’s he wanna do this time? Does he wanna come at me this time? It’s two things. You’re either gonna come forward and go for it or you’re gonna back away and try to wait for it. But either option is bad.”

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Nice McGregor doesn’t mean he’s lost his edge. Far from it. And at 32 with enough accomplishments under his belt to walk away from the sport and still earn a place in the UFC Hall of Fame, he fights now because he wants to, not because he needs to, and that makes him a scary individual for anyone he meets in the Octagon from here on out.

“I said it back then – I set my legacy in stone,” he said. “I’m very proud of my achievements, and many more to come. Now, I just want to compete, I want to stack my highlights, I want to show my improvements and I want to feel competition.”

He’ll get in on Saturday night from a hungry contender looking for payback. How does McGregor respond to that on UFC Fight Island?

“I’ll knock Dustin out within 60 seconds,” he said. “The fans can expect ferocity. Precision, correct preparation, commitment, something they’ve never seen before inside that Octagon.”

Yeah, the fire is still there, and so is the confidence.

“I just feel I’m untouchable,” said McGregor. “When you combine all the facets of this game, there’s no one that does it like me. I always knew that, I still do, and that’s it.”

It’s like he never left.

 

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