The former two-division champion known for both his verbal combat and his decorated combat sports curriculum proceeded to praise his opponent, speaking practically without expletives. That choice defied the odds, at least according to some Las Vegas betting houses, during the half-hour event at the Palms.
“I am very, very grateful and very honored and happy to be here on American soil, on American soil, here in Las Vegas,” said McGregor. “I have had so many incredible moments here in the United States, you know, and I am very grateful for this country, and I am very honored to be here and act for the people.”
Circumstances inside and outside the Octagon may certainly have forced McGregor, 31, to take a much quieter approach to his first MMA fight since October 2018, when he lost by submission in the fourth round to Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas , which preceded a retirement announcement in March 2019.
That humble result followed what was termed “The biggest fight in the history of combat sports,” a boxing match in August 2017 between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr., the undefeated 11-time boxing champion in five divisions Mayweather won a strike in the tenth round.
McGregor has also faced questions about allegations of sexual assault revealed in separate New York Times reports. The most recent report details a complaint from a woman in her 20s who alleges that McGregor sexually assaulted her in a vehicle parked in front of a Dublin pub.
McGregor has denied the charges, and fans booed when he was asked again to address them during Wednesday’s press conference open to the general public, in addition to the media.
UFC President Dana White, who served as moderator for the press conference, denied that the sexual assault charges could have any impact on the scheduled five-round fight at the T-Mobile Arena.
“I am certainly more mature, I have more experience and I have been through certain things that have helped me to form as a man like us on this journey of life,” said McGregor, almost stoic. “If you asked my family, my people who know me, I am no different.
“I am certainly a little more focused on this camp and a little more aware.”
Part of that approach includes refraining from drinking alcohol during this training camp. McGregor revealed his recent sobriety in an interview with ESPN and discussed it more during the moderate press conference in which he and Cerrone came out more like old friends than heated combatants.
McGregor, who said he had not had a drink in the last three or four months, admitted having drunk throughout the training camp that led to his fight against Nurmagomedov, even to the point where he refused to stop during the week of the Fight.
McGregor also repeatedly called Cerrone, 36 (36-13 MMA, 23-10 UFC), a worthy opponent who has earned the highest turnover in the sport after fighting 49 times.
“Although there will be spilled blood on January 18, it won’t be bad blood,” said McGregor, who ended the night with a face-to-face confrontation with Cerrone, providing as much drama at an otherwise unconventional press conference, at less according to McGregor standards.
“You are not going to get your clickbait,” Cerrone told reporters.