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How did we get to Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone at UFC 246? Check out this timeline of all the key moments that led to McGregor and “Cowboy” sharing the octagon in the welterweight pay-per-view headliner on Jan. 18 in Las Vegas.
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Jan. 16, 2015: Cerrone’s first words on McGregor
After McGregor defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC 178 and Cerrone beat Eddie Alvarez on the same card in September 2014, both men once again landed on the same show at UFC Fight Night 59 in January 2015, with McGregor taking on Dennis Siver in the main event while Cerrone faced Benson Henderson in the co-headliner.
Cerrone is asked about a potential fight between the two by MMA Junkie’s Matt Erickson at media day.
“Sure, (I’ll fight him),” Cerrone said. “Conor won’t be able to talk (expletive) to me, though. He won’t be able to do that (Dustin) Poirier stuff because I’ll (expletive) him up whenever I see him. Because that don’t fly with me. I don’t play that game. He’s a good dude. I get along with him just fine.”
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March 13, 2015: Cerrone praises McGregor at fan Q&A
McGregor’s win over Siver at UFC Fight Night 59 set him up for a featherweight title shot. He was already talking about moving up to lightweight, though, and Cerrone is asked about a potential fight with McGregor during a fan Q&A prior to UFC 185 weigh-ins in Dallas.
“I’d fight anybody if they paid me – free – I’d do it,” Cerrone said. “Conor’s doing it. Great job. Talked himself right into a title shot. Hell yeah. Good job, buddy. Son of a (expletive) fights. He fights. Everyone is like, ‘Wait until he gets a test.’ Then he wins. Now he’s got a real test. What if he wins? Then you’ve got to shut the (expletive) up, huh? Who am I to say he can’t win? I don’t know.”
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Sept. 2, 2015: McGregor rips Cerrone’s pay ahead of his title fight
During a media luncheon with reporters in Los Angeles, McGregor, who had just beaten Chad Mendes for the interim UFC featherweight belt two months prior at UFC 189, ripped the scheduled UFC on FOX 17 lightweight title fight between Cerrone and then-champ Rafael dos Anjos
“Rafael has nothing; Donald has nothing,” McGregor said. “Rafael will be lucky to make six figures this fight – and rightfully so. He shouldn’t even make six figures because he doesn’t even bring in six figures. Donald will probably scrape six figures because he shows up and fights every couple weeks, and he earns that six figures. But he don’t earn much more than that.
“Make no mistake: They want it as well,” he said. “They don’t give a (expletive) about each other. If either of them had the opportunity to scrap that fight and come fight me, I can change their life. I can make them rich. I have the numbers.”
It didn’t take long for McGregor’s comments to reach Cerrone, who sent a stern warning over Twitter, reminding the Irishman that the two would share the same building later that week for the UFC’s “Go Big” press conference in Las Vegas.
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Sept. 4, 2015: McGregor, Cerrone trade shots at ‘Go Big’ press conference
The true genesis of McGregor vs. Cerrone starts here. McGregor, who was at the press conference to promote his UFC 194 featherweight title unification bout with Jose Aldo, turns his attention to the lightweight division and has words for Cerrone, planting the seed for a future fight.
“I see stiffness when I look at that 155-pound division,” McGregor said. “Slow, stiff. I feel like they’re stuck in the mud almost. The featherweights, they hit like flyweights. So it’s nice down there just destroying them and killing that division. But I have my eye on that 155 division and I see them all stuck in the mud in there. We’ll see over time. But have I been wrong yet? No.”
Cerrone offers his response: “You have a monster here at 145, Aldo, about to beat your ass. You’ve beat nobody and you think you’re going to come up to 155 and make a statement? Sit down.”
Of course, though, McGregor gets the last word: “You’re fighting a guy (dos Anjos) that whooped your ass next. So you’ve got to come through that. Then I’ll consider. I’ll check the numbers with Frank (Fertitta), then I’ll decide if I want to change your bum life, as well.”
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Dec. 2, 2015: McGregor says UFC wants lightweight title fight vs. Cerrone
As McGregor gears up for his UFC 194 title unification bout with Aldo, he continues to discuss his plans to move up to the lightweight division in the near future. He reveals he spoke to the UFC brass about the move, but claims the promotion was only interested if Cerrone beat dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 17.
“I think the brass want that; they said to me that if Cerrone wins, they would do the lightweight fight,” McGregor said. “They would do a lightweight title fight because dos Anjos wouldn’t bring the numbers. It wouldn’t be as big with dos Anjos. But really, the fight will decide what happens. If it’s a war, if it’s a great fight, then all of a sudden dos Anjos’ stock rises and I’m sure he’s going to call me out. Then it’s there.
“I feel it’s almost set in stone. KO Jose and then KO whoever holds that lightweight belt. Within the next two fights I will be a two-weight world champion once again, but this time in the UFC.”
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