It took Conor McGregor all of 40 seconds to smash his way to victory on his octagon return at UFC 246 – and former foe Floyd Mayweather was almost as quick to use the opportunity to tease a rematch between the pair.
McGregor scythed through Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone inside the first round of their welterweight main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, in what was the Irishman’s first outing since losing to Russian UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at the same venue 15 months ago.
The Notorious flew out of the traps against Cerrone, setting the tone with some inventive shoulder shots in the clinch before landing a crunching left head kick which rocked his opponent.
A dazed Cerrone never recovered, succumbing to a barrage of McGregor punches which forced referee Herb Dean to wave things off after just 40 seconds.
Conor McGregor combusts Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in 40 seconds proper. Setting aside my thoughts on the man, the “Notorious” one is a damn thrilling fighter. pic.twitter.com/IIdIljGdhz
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) January 19, 2020
It was an explosive comeback for an emotional McGregor, who picked up a first win of any sort since he became a two-weight UFC champion back in 2016.
One defeat on the Irishman’s ledger in that period was from his lucrative foray into boxing in 2017 to face Mayweather, who handed him a 10th-round TKO loss in what was the American’s last professional outing.
In the build-up to his fight in Vegas this week, McGregor has teased all manner of potential future bouts, even signaling his belief he would return to the ring and become a future world boxing champion.
Stoking the rumors has been the fact that UFC chief Dana White has openly admitted that the Zuffa Boxing promotion, of which he is a part, was working on something with Mayweather.
The boxing icon was quick to use the opportunity of McGregor’s return to fuel the speculation, posting a mock-up image of a rematch poster between the pair on his Instagram account shortly after McGregor had dispatched with Cerrone.
However, Mayweather soon followed that up with a mock-up of a fight poster featuring himself and Khabib – who in the past has also teased a fight between the pair.
Was the 42-year-old boxing icon simply giving fight fans the chance to vote for the match-up they’d rather see in 2020?
In his post-fight interview, McGregor signaled that he would be happy to remain in the UFC welterweight ranks for the time being at least, saying “I like this division, it feels really good.”
The former UFC featherweight and lightweight champ has talked up a fight with ‘BMF’ title holder Jorge Masvidal, as well as 170lbs champion Kamara Usman – both of whom had a cageside view of McGregor’s destruction of Cerrone on Saturday night.
And then there’s McGregor’s Russian nemesis Khabib, who the Irishman appears hell-bent on avenging his defeat against.
The Russian himself has his own business to attend to in the form of his lightweight title fight against longtime rival Tony Ferguson in April in New York.
For now at least, Mayweather will have to wait.