If you wrote off Conor McGregor, you did so too soon.
The biggest star in mixed martial arts returned to the sport with a vengeance Saturday night, as the Dublin, Ireland native needed just 40 seconds to steamroll New Mexico's Donald Cerrone in the welterweight main event of UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
It was the first victory since November 2016 for the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion, and his first fight since losing the lightweight championship to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. The TKO victory at 170 pounds made McGregor (22-4) the first fighter in UFC history to win bouts via finish in three different weight classes.
Cerrone (36-14, 1 no-contest) ducked a wild McGregor left hand at the outset, but that was the only thing that the popular fighter, nicknamed "Cowboy," avoided. McGregor hit Cerrone with four straight shoulder shivers in the clinch, which caused Cerrone's left eye to immediately swell. McGregor pulled back and landed a picture perfect kick to the jaw, still just 20 seconds in.
He then swarmed Cerrone and dropped him with his trademark left hand, and followed up with uncontested punches by the cage until the fight was waved off.
"I made history here tonight. I set another record," the 31-year-old McGregor said afterward. "I'm the first fighter in UFC history to secure knockout victories at featherweight, at lightweight and now at welterweight, across three weight divisions. I'm very, very proud of that."
Twenty of McGregor's 22 career victories have come via finish. Cerrone, 36, dropped his third straight fight.
In the evening's co-feature bout, former UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm (13-5) of Albuquerque, N.M., got a much-needed victory with a unanimous decision over Colorado's Raquel Pennington (10-8).
Holm, best remembered for her 2015 head-kick knockout of Ronda Rousey, was 2-5 since her famous win. That may explain why she used a safe, clinch-based game plan which frustrated the crowd, but was effective in securing judges' scores of 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27.
In other main-card fights, Aleksei Oleinik submitted Maurice Green in the second round of a heavyweight bout; Brian Kelleher submitted fellow bantamweight Ode Osbourne in the first round; and Carlos Diego Ferreira improved to 17-2 by submitting fellow lightweight Anthony Pettis in the second round.
A strawweight bout between Alexa Grasso and Claudia Gadelha was canceled after Grasso weighed in on Friday at 121.5 pounds, 5.5 pounds over the limit.
--Field Level Media