Conor McGregor made an emphatic statement on his UFC return as he needed just 40 seconds to overpower veteran American Donald Cerrone at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Irishman had been out of action for 15 months but exploded into life from the first bell of the welterweight bout at UFC 246, charging at his opponent before bloodying his nose with several unorthodox shoulder strikes in the clinch.
McGregor then stepped back and a precision head kick high over the guard landed square on the jaw of Cerrone, who was also caught by a flying knee and crumpled to the mat as the Dubliner went for an early finish.
Cerrone was covered up as the rights and lefts rained down on him, prompting referee Herb Dean to call a halt to a brief one-sided contest within the first minute of the opening round.
“I made history here, I set another record: I’m the first fighter in UFC history to secure knockout victories at featherweight, at lightweight and now at welterweight, so I’m very, very proud of that,” McGregor said in the octagon.
“Donald holds the record for most head-kick knockouts, I’m so happy to get him down with a head kick myself. I’m very, very happy, very proud.
“Who’s going up and down divisions and stopping people like that?
“The UFC can strip fighters and gift other fighters make-believe belts in order to replicate my champ-champ status, but they can’t give knockout victories across multiple weight divisions. Etch my name in history one more time.”