Conor McGregor has marked his return to mixed martial arts with a definitive UFC victory, beating Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds.
The 31-year-old Irishman stopped his American opponent with a punch to the nose swiftly followed by left kick to the head.
Flooring Cerrone, McGregor then finished the fight on the floor, to the delight of the sell-out crowd in Las Vegas.
Speaking after the fight, McGregor said: “I feel really good, and I came out of here unscathed. I’m in shape. We’ve got work to do to get back to where I was.”
The Irish former two-division champion had walked to the cage wearing the Irish flag.
Following his defeat, Cerrone said: “I’d never seen anything like that. He busted my nose, it started bleeding, and he stepped back and head-kicked me. Oh, man. This happened this fast?”
Despite previous shows of unsportsmanlike conduct, McGregor spoke to Cerrone after the bout, and even hugged his opponent’s grandmother when she entered the octagon to hug her defeated grandson.
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It’s McGregor’s first win in three years, following a stint away from the UFC.
In November 2016 he stopped lightweight Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts simultaneously.
He went on to lose a 2017 boxing match to Floyd Mayweather in 2017 and a UFC bout to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in late 2018.
He has also been in trouble with the law, and was convicted of assault in Dublin following an altercation in a pub in April 2019, for which he paid a €1,000 (£861) fine.
McGregor says he’s now back on form, and more fights will follow throughout 2020.
He told the crowd: “Any one of these mouthy fools can get it. Every single one of them can get it. It does not matter. I’m back and I’m ready.”
It’s likely he was referring to welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and veteran brawler Jorge Masvidal who both watched the fight from cageside, and could be up to fight McGregor next.
Future fights are expected to perform well on both pay-per-view and in live arena ticket sales.