For over a year, McGregor has been out of action. His most recent appearance inside the Octagon came at UFC 264 last July. In the main event, the former two-division UFC champion was hoping to close out his trilogy with Dustin Poirier by exacting revenge for the knockout loss he suffered to “The Diamond” six months prior.
But towards the end of the first round, the pay-per-view headliner came to an anticlimactic halt when McGregor suffered a gruesome broken leg. After undergoing surgery, the Irishman began the road to recovery.
As expected, McGregor’s period on the sidelines hasn’t come with a decreased presence in the MMA space, with the former lightweight and featherweight king continuing his callouts and consistently promising to make a monumental comeback to the top inside the cage.
Following reports that he may be ready to return early next year, McGregor has been stepped up his training. Having previously released sparring clips, including kicks with his formerly snapped limb, footage recently emerged showing the Dublin native drilling his wrestling game.
While known for his standup game and, in particular, the power and accuracy in his left hand, the Irishman displayed a polished arsenal on the mats — something that one former All-American collegiate wrestler-turned-UFC star believes has said a lot.
Sonnen: “Conor McGregor Is Coming Back”
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, former middleweight and light heavyweight UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen assessed the latest footage from McGregor’s return to intense training.
The talented grappler placed immense praise on McGregor’s wresting, suggesting that aspiring fighters should watch and “study” how the 34-year-old battled his partner on the ground.
“Footage has come out of Conor wrestling. If you haven’t seen this and you’re an aspiring fighter, you must go watch this. You must watch this, and you must study this,” Sonnen said. “If you don’t know Conor McGregor, you don’t know he’s from Ireland — a country that doesn’t even have wrestling — and I show you this footage and tell you, ‘This guy was my teammate at the University of Oregon,’ you are going to believe me.
“Pure wrestling. He’s in a stance, he’s on his feet, he’s bent over, his knees are bent, he’s not bent at the waist, his hands are up, his elbows are in, he’s got head position — he looked like a seasoned wrestler,” Sonnen added. “I really hope you guys watch this video.”
But more than just the skills on display, Sonnen believes that the mindset on show has provided a big indicator about McGregor’s future plans in combat sports.
“My number-one takeaway, guys, Conor’s not playing,” Sonnen said. “Conor grabbing a guy, pushing and pulling back and forth, you don’t play wrestling… It’s very difficult. It’s very hard stuff.
“The fact that Conor McGregor is out there, on a weekend, pushing and pulling, holding stance and wrestling; guys, he’s coming back. This is the surest thing to a guarantee we’ve had… Conor McGregor is coming back,” Sonnen concluded.
During a recent Twitter Q&A, McGregor promised to make the “greatest comeback in sports history. According to Sonnen, the first step to doing so — stepping back inside the cage — now appears to be a certainty.
This story originally appeared on MMANews.com. Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.