The long wait is finally over, according to UFC head honcho Dana White.
Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto today, White confirmed Conor McGregor’s near 14-month hiatus from the UFC will come to an end in early 2020 as he takes on Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in Las Vegas.
Interestingly the fight will take place at welterweight rather than his native lightweight, opening up the possibility that McGregor may be eyeing an assault on Jorge Masvidal’s ‘BMF’ belt in the near future.
The Irishman made clear his desire to face the winner of that inaugural ‘BMF’ title fight, between arch-rival Nate Diaz and Masvidal at UFC 244, with a number of barbed comments on Twitter earlier this month.
However, any further matchmaking will be on hold pending victory over wily veteran Cerrone, who comes into the bout seeking to reverse a two-fight losing skid, on January 18.
The 36-year-old is one of the most respected fighters in the game having shared the Octagon with a who’s who of MMA legends over the course of his 50-fight career.
Most recently, Cerrone came up short against Justin Gaethje in a September showdown in Vancouver and pocketed a Fight of the Night bonus during defeat to Tony Ferguson before that.
McGregor, meanwhile, has been teasing a return to competition ever since being outclassed and outmuscled by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October last year.
The Notorious One tapped to a vicious neck crank in the fourth round on that night and has since wrestled to keep his reputation outside of the Octagon intact following a number of well-documented brushes with the law.
Thankfully fight fans can look forward to seeing McGregor back in the headlines for the right reason with his long-awaited return now confirmed by boss Dana White.
"Conor has signed and Cowboy is ready to go," White told ESPN.
It will be the third time McGregor has fought at 170lb; the 31-year-old suffered the first defeat of his UFC career at welterweight in a now-iconic defeat to Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
However, the Dublin brawler scratched that defeat during a five-round war against Diaz at UFC 202 before going on to become the first reigning two-weight UFC world champion three months later when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
That meant he briefly held UFC gold at both featherweight and lightweight but he was later stripped of the titles due to his inactivity.
With 28 knockout victories between them, fireworks are sure to fly between McGregor and Cerrone at the T-Mobile Arena on January 18 – and BT Sport will make sure you don’t miss a second of the action.
But before that, we’ve got a mouth-watering programme of combat sports to sink your teeth into during the festive period beginning with Midlands Mayhem this weekend.
Featuring six title fights – including a WBO bantamweight world championship contest – BT Sport brings you some of the best in British boxing exclusively live from the Birmingham Arena on Saturday night.
Sam Bowen defends his British super-featherweight title against lively challenger Anthony Cacace, Chris Jenkins puts his Lonsdale belt on the line against Liam Taylor, while Lerrone Richards and Lennox Clarke go toe-to-toe for the vacant British strap in the evening’s marquee domestic bouts.
South African superstar Zolani Tete defends his 118lb WBO world title against John Riel Casemiro in the main event before attention turns to Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Carl Frampton takes on unbeaten American Tyler McCreary hoping to keep his dreams of winning a third world title alive before former WBO featherweight king Oscar Valdez makes his debut at 130lb against Andres Gutierrez.
Next weekend, the UFC returns to BT Sport with a heavyweight main event from Washington D.C, US, between Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
But all eyes will be on the following weekend with a whopping triple-title fight extravaganza in Las Vegas which takes on extra significance in light of today’s events.
Topping the bill, the welterweight title will be on the line in a bad blood showdown between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington while Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski trade leather for featherweight honours in the co-main event.
Amanda Nunes defends her bantamweight championship against Germaine de Randamie while Jose Aldo debuts at bantamweight against Brazilian countryman Marlon Moraes.
BT Sport is the exclusive home of the UFC in the UK and Ireland. If you’re not yet a subscriber, find out how we can get you set up in just 15 minutes right here.