Conor McGregor makes short work of Donald Cerrone to mark successful UFC return

'Notorious' was competing, in his first bout since October 2018, at UFC 246 in Las Vegas

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Conor McGregor made a successful return to the UFC with a first-round knockout of Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone.

"Notorious"' was competing in his first bout since October 2018, and he made sure that it was a victorious return by defeating Cerrone at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.

The 31-year-old Irishman left Cerrone bloodied mere seconds into the fight by ramming his shoulders into the American's face before landing a head kick that stunned his opponent.

McGregor then pounded strikes into a downed Cerrone before referee Herb Dean called a halt to the action.

The victory was McGregor's first since November 2016 at Madison Square Garden when he beat Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title and become the organisation’s first simultaneous two-weight champion.

McGregor took his record to 22-4 with his first UFC victory since 2016, when he stopped Eddie Alvarez in a lightweight title fight to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts at the same time.

That triumph was followed by a loss to boxing great Floyd Mayweather in a cross-combat superfight in 2017, his loss to Nurmagomedov, announcements of retirements and returns to fighting and brushes with authorities outside the octagon.

He pleaded guilty to hitting a man in a bar in Ireland and was accused of smashing a fan's phone in Florida.

The New York Times reported he is the subject of two alleged sexual assault investigations in Ireland.

Nevertheless, he remains the most popular fighter in UFC history, and his return brought out stars including British heavyweight Tyson Fury and New England Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady for the sold-out show.

In Cerrone McGregor faced an experienced veteran whose 36 wins included the most knockouts (20) in UFC.

Although there was no title at stake, McGregor said the outcome was a harbinger of things to come.

"I like this [welterweight] division," he said. "I feel really good. I came out of here unscathed. I've got work to do to get back to where I was."

And while the UFC has stripped him of titles before, McGregor noted they can never take away the fact that he has posted knockouts in three divisions - featherweight, lightweight and welterweight.

"Etch my name in the history books one more time," he said.