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McGregor admits he 'fell out of love with the game' during UFC hiatus

A 23-month absence from the octagon will end for the Dubliner this Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Conor McGregor returns this weekend at UFC 229.
Conor McGregor returns this weekend at UFC 229.
Image: Seth Wenig

CONOR MCGREGOR BELIEVES he has rediscovered his appetite for competition after falling out of love with MMA during an absence that has lasted for nearly two years.

Twenty-three months since his last mixed martial arts bout, McGregor will bid to regain the UFC lightweight title when he fights reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on Saturday night.

The fight, which is the main attraction at UFC 229, will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where McGregor was beaten by Floyd Mayweather in his debut as a professional boxer in August of last year.

McGregor’s last appearance in the octagon saw him defeat Eddie Alvarez via second-round TKO in November 2016, although the former two-division champion claims he offered to return for short-notice bouts against Frankie Edgar and Rafael Dos Anjos earlier this year.

“I’m here for the love of this game, for the love of competition,” he told The Mac Life. “I fell out of love with the game for a bit, went off and did my own thing, had many things going on. Now I’m back. I’m hungry to compete.”

He added: “The fans have just missed me competing, like I have missed me competing also. We all get what we want on 6 October: McGregor back inside the famous UFC octagon.”

Tensions between Saturday’s headliners boiled over in Brooklyn back in April when McGregor and several associates attacked a bus carrying UFC fighters, including Nurmagomedov. The Dubliner was subsequently arrested.

UFC McGregors Return Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor will clash this weekend. Source: Seth Wenig

It’s understood that the attack was carried out in retaliation to an incident that occurred days earlier, in which Nurmagomedov and members of his team cornered Artem Lobov — McGregor’s Straight Blast Gym team-mate — in a hotel corridor.

McGregor was ordered to undertake anger management classes and five days of community service after reaching a plea deal at Brooklyn Criminal Court in July.

“Obviously the situation arose with this opponent and my team, and it got a little bit more personal. A lot more personal, to be honest. And now here we are on this one,” McGregor said.

“Let’s see who backs up first. Let’s see who’s still in that cage throwing shots. Let’s see who really wants it. I know I really want it and I’m going to go and take it.”

When asked about potential future opponents, McGregor namechecked former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre, reigning welterweight title-holder Tyron Woodley, and former opponents Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier, who are scheduled to face each other at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden on 3 November.

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Paul Dollery

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