“A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter,” John Kavanagh assures anyone who wants to hear it these days. Kavanagh is the coach of Conor McGregor, still the biggest star of the martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). McGregor returns to the cage in Las Vegas on Sunday night after more than a year. His opponent Donald Cerrone could have little to laugh about, because McGregor looks very happy before his comeback to finally do what he does best.
The 31-year-old mixed martial arts fighter is better than ever, says his trainer. McGregor had fun training again, would “laugh a lot on the mat”. The fame of the Irish workers’ son results less from sporting achievements than from scandals. McGregor’s last fight was in October 2018. He lost to the Russian Chabib Nurmagomedow. The spectacle ended in a mass brawl, and McGregor was subsequently suspended for six months. After the involuntary hiatus ended, McGregor fueled rumors of a possible resignation. He no longer wants to know about this. The duel with Welterweight Cerrone is said to be only the first of three fights this year. “He makes a focused impression,” martial arts expert Philipp Ertl explains jw, McGregor could return to his previous level despite the long break. The 36-year-old American Cerrone is also an ideal opponent for the comeback. He holds records like most UFC victories, can be “sold well”, but is also “highly predictable – McGregor knows what to expect”.
The two opponents could hardly be more different. While McGregor, with his, to put it mildly, extrovert manner “takes all PR work off his management and the UFC,” as Ertl puts it, Cerrone lives alone on a ranch in the US state of New Mexico. So he’s not just nicknamed “Cowboy” because he always wears the appropriate hat. Cerrone can confidently be called a nature boy. As an adrenaline junkie, he likes to ride motocross or climb high rocks – it is no coincidence that his little son bears the middle name »Danger«.
The fight against McGregor is a sign of gratitude from the UFC for the cowboy’s lifetime achievement. Because no matter when or against whom: Cerrone was always ready. A meeting with McGregor now means, in addition to the sporting prestige, that Cerrone will cash in again properly.
McGregor, however, has long since taken care of. For financial reasons, the former world champion in feather and light weight would no longer have to climb into the cage. Why is he doing it? “McGregor can’t fight without,” says Ertl. McGregor is his favorite. Its most dangerous weapon is the left. But Ertl also says: “The longer the fight lasts, the more Cerrone’s chances increase.”
A victory would put the athlete McGregor in the foreground again. On sports TV station ESPN, he recently gave himself unusually remorseful about behavior in the recent past: “The people who support me deserve better.”