Conor McGregor showed a less abrasive side of his personality in his pre-fight press conference on Wednesday, but still said he plans to finish Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Conor McGregor Donald Cerrone UFC 246
Conor McGregor (left) and Donald Cerrone (right) were cordial and upbeat ahead of their fight at UFC 246 on Saturday. (Image: AP)

McGregor is a -300 favorite over Cerrone (+235) in his return to the UFC Octagon, according to odds posted by FanDuel Sportsbook.

All Smiles at Pre-Fight Press Conference

McGregor (21-4) last fought in Oct. 2018, when Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated the Irishman by fourth-round submission to retain his UFC lightweight title. After more than a year off, McGregor is coming back to take on one of the most popular fighters in all of mixed martial arts, in a bout that could set up the winner for a title shot.

The fact that Cerrone (36-13) is such a well-liked opponent may have played a part in McGregor’s decision to tone down his act a bit. A string of legal issues and controversies also soured McGregor’s reputation, and playing the good guy could be a way to repair his image.

Regardless of the motivation, McGregor was positive and friendly when talking about Saturday’s matchup.

“I’m in a position now where I’m just very, very excited to be here, and I’m very eager to perform for the fans,” McGregor told reporters. “I’ve got a solid opponent in front of me, a veteran of the game, and I’m just in a good spot. That’s it. I don’t think I’ve changed or altered, or, you know, I’m just committed and focused and happy to be here.”

That didn’t stop the former featherweight and lightweight champion from opining on how he’d do on Saturday, though.

“Although there will be blood spilled on Jan. 18, it will not be bad blood,” McGregor said. “And for the Mystic Mac prediction, it will be a KO.”

Cerrone ‘Honored’ to Fight McGregor

Cerrone expressed the same upbeat attitude heading into the fight.

“He did everything he said he was gonna do, didn’t he?” Cerrone said of McGregor. “Any feelings? Yeah, he’s f—ing great man, and I’m honored to share the thing with him.”

The two men are both ranked lightweight contenders, but Saturday’s bout will be taking place at welterweight, 15 pounds heavier and the next division up in the UFC. The higher weight avoids a difficult weight cut for McGregor (or Cerrone, for that matter), allowing him to potentially fight again in March if he avoids serious injury at UFC 246.

At 36 years old, Cerrone is certainly late in his MMA career. And while three wins in a row had him looking like he might make one more title run, consecutive TKO losses to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje in June and September suggest that he remains more of a top-tier gatekeeper than a serious threat to win a title.

UFC 246 Odds (Main Card)

  • Conor McGregor (-300) vs. Donald Cerrone (+235)
  • Holly Holm (-142) vs. Raquel Pennington (+116)
  • Aleksei Oleinik (+106) vs. Maurice Greene (-124)
  • Claudia Gadelha (-114) vs. Alexa Grasso (-102)
  • Anthony Pettis (+205) vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (-270)

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

Cerrone’s recent outings put him in a level below McGregor, who has shown he can be a champion at multiple weight classes. McGregor also enjoys a stylistic advantage, as he is a longer and more accurate striker who isn’t likely to let Cerrone take him to the ground.

Cerrone’s best opportunity to win the fight may be to survive early, hoping that a rusty McGregor gets gassed. And while that might seem unlikely, Cowboy suggested that he plans to be in this fight for the long haul.

“I’m going to go in there and give it all we got,” Cerrone told reporters. “I am going five founds with this dude, and I cannot wait until Saturday.”

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