McGregor tells UFC 'etch my name in the history books' after knocking out Cerrone

Referee waves off fight after 40 seconds to hand McGregor victory at UFC 246 in Las Vegas

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UFC star Conor McGregor looked back to his very best as he demolished fan-favourite Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in only 40 seconds at UFC 246.

It was the crowd puller versus the crowd pleaser in Las Vegas as returning Irishman McGregor took on octagon veteran and multiple record-holder Cerrone in a matchup that captured the imagination of fight fans here at T-Mobile Arena.

Hopes were high for an action-packed clash between two of the most exciting fighters in UFC history, but when the fight began, it was one-way traffic — all McGregor.

He charged out of his corner and threw a huge left hand in a bid to score a spectacular first-punch knockout, but American Cerrone reacted quickly enough to narrowly avoid the full impact of the punch. But McGregor scored with some unconventional shoulder strikes from the clinch before the pair separated and Cerrone back-pedalled.

The Irishman set his sights, then connected with a huge head kick that left Cerrone on wobbly legs, and a salvo of left hands sent the American crashing to the canvas.

Another barrage of shots to the grounded Cerrone was all that was needed for referee Herb Dean to wave off the fight after 40 seconds to hand McGregor a spectacular victory – his first in more than three years in MMA.

In a departure from previous McGregor fight weeks, we saw a happier, more relaxed, more respectful Dubliner as he joked with the media about his improved timekeeping, paid tribute to Cerrone's accomplishments as an opponent and cut an altogether more contented figure. Cerrone, meanwhile, was his usual laid-back self.

It made for an enjoyable few days as the two fighters proved that you don't need animosity to sell a good fight. McGregor said it best: "Blood will be spilt, but it will not be bad blood."

Indeed, that lack of animosity seemingly had no negative effect in the level of interest in the matchup. During the week, crowds queued out the door for the first press conference, then packed the casino floor at the Park MGM hotel to get in to watch the two stars face off at the ceremonial weigh-ins.

And the atmosphere inside the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena was electric when the two men made their walks to the octagon.

That electric atmosphere hit fever pitch when McGregor stunned Cerrone in the opening seconds and claimed his quick-fire finish, the second fastest of his UFC career.

"I made history tonight," McGregor said. "I set a new record. I'm the first fighter in UFC history to secure knockout victories at featherweight, at lightweight and now at welterweight – across three weight divisions, so I'm very proud of that.

"The amount of records that man [Cerrone] has, but one of the records he holds [is the] most head-kick knockouts. I'm so happy to be able to get him down with a head kick myself. So I'm very happy and proud tonight.

"The UFC, they can strip fighters and give to other fighters make-believe belts in order to replicate my champ-champ status. But they can't give knockout victories across multiple weight divisions, so there you go again. Etch my name in the history books one more time.

"I like this weight division. I feel really good. God willing, I came out of here unscathed, I'm in shape. I don't believe I'm there yet, though. I've still got work to do to get back to where I was."

McGregor's impressive win opens the door for a host of big-name matchups, with UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and "BMF" champion Jorge Masvidal both keen, while Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao is also believed to be interested in a boxing clash with the Irishman.

But perhaps the two bouts that McGregor most wants lie outside of those options, with the Irishman revealing earlier this week that he is particularly keen on avenging his two most recent losses: to UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.