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Conor McGregor breaks silence in lengthy Ariel Helwani interview

Conor McGregor

For the first time in 10 months, former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor talked to a media member, conducting a lengthy televised interview Thursday night with Ariel Helwani that aired on ESPN2.

McGregor, who did the interview via satellite from Dublin, Ireland, was more subdued than in the past, showing little bravado or any of the over the top character that endeared himself to so many while also making him reviled by some.

The big takeaway: he wants to return to fighting and is looking forward to his "triumphant return".

Some of the highlights:

- Helwani led off with questions about the recent TMZ video released from April showing McGregor punching a man in a Dublin bar for refusing a shot of his whiskey. McGregor said, "I was in the wrong. I must take accountability and responsibility." Helwani said the video was grainy and asked if he indeed punched that man which McGregor dodged, instead reiterating that he is trying to get back on the right path. "I have to wait and see what happens and will face it head on. What happens, I will face."

- Helwani asked about the cell phone issue outside the Miami, FL, nightclub and McGregor said the issue was resolved but he was in the wrong.

- McGregor referenced comebacks by Nate Diaz, Stipe Miocic, and Urijah Faber as fuel for his eventual comeback which would be "the greatest one of them all".

- McGregor did show some fire when asked about his retirement tweet. He said how much he's fought through injuries in his career and referenced how he broke his left hand sparring in May while preparing for a July fight at MSG. Without the injury, he said he would have fought for sure. The opponent? "It was leaning toward Justin Gaethje at the time."

- He said he has a great business relationship with the UFC while admitting the discussion about a co-main event against Donald Cerrone was a bump in the road.

- He said he loves watching MMA from the prelims through the main event which is why he tweets so much about fights. "It's my game. I love it dearly."

- He said he'd welcome the third fight with Nate Diaz, but doesn't blame Diaz if he doesn't want it because of the damage both men took in the first two fights. 

- When talking about who he wants to return against, he said, "I want my world title back. The camp (for Khabib Nurmagomedov) wasn't correct. He ran away that first round." He said his training sessions were too serious and when he left, he would leave it all behind. "You can't be half in." He also said his foot was a "balloon" in that fight, reiterating the foot injury he's claimed he had.

- He then added he'll fight anyone in his return, naming Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier if he beats Khabib, Gaethje, Jose Aldo, and others. 

- When asked true/false if he fights this year, McGregor said "true" and hopefully at the end of the year, saying he's been cleared for grappling. 

- He said John Kavanaugh will be in his corner when he fights again, admitting he was taken aback when Kavanaugh said he hadn't watched the fight back. 

- Helwani asked him about Holloway's visit to Dublin and some of his posts on social media. McGregor said he would welcome that fight again, adding that he could feel himself almost taking the bait. In the same breath, he mentioned how much he likes and respects Frankie Edgar.

McGregor last fought in October 2018 in a fourth round submission loss to UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov.