It's official: Conor McGregor is finally making his long-awaited UFC comeback.
The former two-division champion will fight Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone on Jan. 18 in the main event of UFC 246 in Las Vegas. The two will meet at welterweight in a non-title bout, UFC president Dana White told ESPN.
"Conor has signed, and Cowboy is ready to go," White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
The fight will mark McGregor's third appearance at 170 pounds in the UFC. He fought Nate Diaz at welterweight twice in 2016, losing via submission and then evening the series with a majority decision victory.
McGregor (21-4) will make his first appearance in the Octagon since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov by fourth-round submission at UFC 229 in October 2018.
The infamous post-fight brawl between camps, which featured Nurmagomedov leaping over the Octagon cage to attack McGregor's teammate Dillion Danis and Nurmagomedov's teammates sucker punching McGregor inside the cage, resulted in lengthy UFC suspensions for both parties.
McGregor has fought just once inside the Octagon since 2016, and has made headlines for a string of ugly incidents outside the Octagon during his time off, including arrests for punching an old guy at a bar in Ireland and smashing a fan's cellphone outside a Miami nightclub. He is also under investigation for two sexual assault cases in Ireland, according to the New York Times, but no charges have been filed.
Cerrone (36-13) is 3-3 in his last six fights with his defeats coming at top UFC fighters like Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson and Leon Edwards. "Cowboy" teased in October that the fight was close to being a done deal after McGregor first announced his UFC return.
McGregor hosted a typically outspoken press conference last month in Moscow that revealed his Jan. 18 comeback fight date in which he opined about the future fights he wants, dropping names like Diaz, Jorge Masvidal and the winner of the upcoming (but yet to be officially announced) Khabib/Tony Ferguson fight. But he'll have to get through Cerrone first.
"I am going to go through the entire roster like a chainsaw through butter," McGregor said in October of his planned opponents. "Make no mistake about that."