He’s trying to minimize it, but it seems that Conor McGregor really is a different man.
The returning superstar has introduced himself as a refocused and revitalized fighter while seeking to mount his UFC return against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Sunday (AEDT) in Las Vegas.
And although we will have to wait to see if that translates into the Octagon, it has already manifested itself in a surprise. McGregor, known for running on his own schedule, showed up early for the UFC 246 press conference.
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By Ariel Helwani of ESPNMcGregor arrived with 15 minutes to spare.
His presentation at the press conference then presented little of the trash talk he became famous for. Instead, McGregor was confident but reserved, and full of respect for Cerrone at a press conference light years away from the moody extravagance that preceded his fighting with Floyd Mayweather and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I don’t think I’ve changed too much, I’m who I am. I’m in a good place,” McGregor said when asked what had changed between now and his previous fight.
“I’m in a good place, I’m ready to fight.
“I will launch the great year 2020 of UFC.
“It’s very good to be back.”
The atmosphere at the press conference changed briefly when a journalist asked Conor McGregor to comment on his legal problems resulting from allegations of sexual assault, which the Irish has emphatically denied.
UFC chief Dana White closed the question and said McGregor had already addressed it in his exclusive interview with Helwani earlier this week.
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While McGregor apparently had no interest in participating in a war of words, he certainly does not lack confidence to address Sunday’s fight.
“I made this game the way it is, so I will come in and remind everyone,” McGregor said.
“I will go for the knockout.”
McGregor reiterated his interest in a return to boxing, potentially for a rematch with Mayweather and claimed that the talks with Manny Pacquiao were “ongoing.” He also sent a sincere message of support to Australia in the midst of the forest fire crisis.
Cerrone, barely visible under his big characteristic hat, was complementary to his opponent and said he couldn’t wait for the fight.
“We are the last dying race of some fighters. It’s great to share the octagon with this man. I’m still kicking a ** and having fun, doing what I love,” he said.
Watch the UFC 246 press conference below!