Conor McGregor KOs Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds on UFC return

Conor McGregor needed just 40 seconds to stop Donald Cerrone and win his first fight for three years.

The Irishman made a stunning start to the fight never looked back as he announced his return in spectacular fashion.

McGregor was fighting for the first time since he was choked out by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the same T-Mobile Arena 15 months ago.

He opted to take on grizzled 50-fight veteran Cerrone at welterweight, just the third time he had fought at 170lb following his double-header with Nate Diaz in 2016.

McGregor enjoyed a tumultuous year in 2019 as he was arrested following an altercation with a fan in Miami and then fined for punching a man in Dublin.

But he announced his return in November with Cerrone immediately one of the frontrunners to take on the former two-weight champion.

Cerrone has long been considered a slow-starter and unable to beat the very best in the sport.

And that proved to be prophetic as McGregor landed a left kick to the head in the opening seconds before dropping Cerrone and finishing the fight inside a minute.

In the co-main event, Holly Holm won for just the second time in five fights as she repeated her 2015 victory over Raquel Pennington.

Holm said: "It feels really good to have a win. I always want more, I always want perfection, I know that I have more that I could show. I’m very happy to have the win and start the year off right.

"She’s scrappy everywhere, she’s got so much experience and can fight everywhere, so I didn’t want to look into the first fight too much. I definitely wanted to be more clear and dominant, and I feel like I did that. I feel like I dominated, but I just didn’t do enough damage, that’s what I want to do – damage."

The fight failed to ignite and the crowd voiced their disapproval throughout the three rounds.

Earlier on the main card, Anthony Pettis slipped to a second successive defeat and a third in four fights as he was submitted by Diego Ferreira in the second round.

Ferreira almost locked in the rear-naked choke in the opening session but made no mistake in the second stanza as Pettis was beaten on his return to lightweight.

The victor immediately set his sights on the top five.

He said: "My dream is getting into the rankings, so now I think I will take Anthony’s spot and be close to the top 10. I really want to get to the top five, I’m not worried about the title yet, but I want to get to the top five."

There was also an early finish in the bantamweight division as Brian Kelleher submitted Ode Osbourne in the opening stanza via a guillotine choke.

And Russian heavyweight Aleksei Oleinik displayed his prowess on the canvas once again as he submitted Maurice Green via armbar in the second round.

Drew Dober opened the prelims with a stunning stoppage of Nasrat Haqparast inside 70 seconds.

Dober dropped his opponent with a straight left before quickly finishing the job on the canvas with the referee late to step in.

"I think this is a huge statement win for me. He’s carrying a huge fan base, especially internationally, and he’s very talented, so I just wanted to go out there and showcase what I’m capable of," he said.

"He brought in a lot of hype, but I know what I’m capable of and I showed it. I’m going to take a much needed break after this, but then I’m ready for top 10, top 15, whoever ends up saying yes."

Askar Askarov then delivered a composed performance to pick off Tim Elliott who did well to recover from a huge right hand in round one.

Sodiq Yusuff outpointed Andre Fili in an absorbing contest before Roxanne Modafferi upset huge favourite and rising star Maybee Barber with a thoroughly dominant points win.

"It feels incredibly relieving and satisfying to be back in the win column again," Modafferi said. "I hope my friends and family made some big money from this fight! I’ve been a little influenced by my coaches to embrace my dark side a bit more.

"I’m not naturally scary, so I tried to focus on that a little bit more to make sure people took me seriously."

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