Conor McGregor announces return, will fight Jan. 18 in Vegas

Conor McGregor has announced his return to fighting.

In a news conference in Moscow, McGregor announced that he’ll step back into the octagon on Jan. 18 in Las Vegas. He told the media that he knows who his opponent is, but he’s not revealing the name. Via MMA Fighting:

“So, that is my comeback fight, it’s 12 weeks this Saturday. I’m in prime physical condition, I’ve agreed to the date with the company. As far as the opponent, I have the opponent’s name, but for me and the game that I’m in, and from experience, if I was to give you people the name - which I would love to do - I know the UFC would flip it because they are a crafty company. For me, here’s this one, ask the UFC who the opponent is because I do not give a f— who the opponent is. Jan. 18 ... the return of ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor ... 12 weeks this Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the two leading candidates for the fight are Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje. Helwani also reported that McGregor initially wanted to return on December 14 and fight Frankie Edgar, but the UFC nixed that and instead decided to schedule a new pay-per-view event in January.

The January fight in Vegas is what McGregor called “the beginning of my season.” He hopes to fight three times in 2020: after the bout in January, he wants to fight the winner of Nate Diaz versus Jorge Masvidal, and then he wants to face the winner of the yet-to-be-scheduled fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.

McGregor, 31, hasn’t fought since October 2018 when he lost to Khabib by submission, and he hasn’t won a fight since he beat Eddie Alvarez in 2016. With McGregor giving the news conference in Moscow, you can bet that Khabib came up. A lot.

“For me, I wish to compete here in Moscow, Russia. We know that, this is known. We know what bout I am seeking here in Mother Russia, the people of Russia deserve this inevitable rematch to take place here in Moscow and it will happen. However, I am not waiting around for that man [Nurmagomedov]. That man is a known pullout; a known fearer of risk - he does not take risk - so for me, I am not waiting around.”

McGregor didn’t stop there. He went on a long tirade about Khabib, accusing him of running away and being afraid of a rematch. Since Khabib beat McGregor last year, it seems like Khabib is generally more concerned with beating people he hasn’t beaten before. The rematch talk has been entirely fueled by McGregor, who is obviously hungry to face the man who bested him.

"It is an inevitable rematch, it is a rematch that I will come in sharp, fresh, I will have no injuries, I will have no alcohol, I will have no outside influences. I will be fully focused, exactly what the people deserve, exactly what the fans deserve, and we will settle it, once and for all."

Since his last fight, McGregor has been entangled in several legal issues. He’s been accused of sexual assault twice, both in his native Ireland, with the most recent accusation reported by the New York Times on Oct. 19. He was also charged with assault for allegedly punching a man at a pub in Dublin, which was caught on video.

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