According to John Kavanagh, the UFC’s annual, big end-of-year spectacular on December 30th will not feature the promotion’s biggest star – Conor McGregor.
Reports in the Irish media last weekend suggested that McGregor was on the verge of signing to fight two-time foe Nate Diaz in a trilogy decider on the card. MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani, an ever reliable source, subsequently claimed that those reports were premature, however. Helwani added that while McGregor vs. Diaz 3 had long been the planned main event for UFC 219 and remained so, time was running out for the UFC to get the bout across the line.
Kavanagh had previously written in his column for the42.ie that he felt a 2017 return to the octagon for his charge was unlikey, but he wasn’t completely ruling it out.
Asked to comment on the aforementioned Irish media reports during an appearance at the Original Penguin AW 17 launch in Dublin on Wednesday, however, Kavanagh’s response was categorical.
“December 30th is definitely not happening,” Kavanagh said. “I don’t know how these things get started, but they have a certain way of gaining momentum.”
“I can also tell you that his manager rang me this morning saying that him and Conor had been in meetings all day. Obviously, tomorrow is when we would start to consider the date(via MMAFighting).”
Kavanagh did say, however, that a third clash with Diaz is the fight that he will be pushing for when he meets McGregor and Audie Attar on Thursday. And the date that he will be pushing for? Well that’s bound to excite McGregor fans and disappoint them in equal measure.
“If it was my choice, and I must stress that this is only my choice and that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, it would be Nate Diaz in March,” said the SBG Ireland founder. “That’s what I would push towards.”
“I have in my head that it would be a Paddy’s Day card in New York, Nate Diaz 3. I think that would be absolutely amazing. That’s what I would wish for.”
“That’s what I’ll be leaning towards with my 0.1 percent influence when I meet with Conor and Audie (Attar) tomorrow. I want Diaz 3, Paddy’s Day in New York.”
While the idea of a McGregor fight taking place in the ‘Big Apple’ on St.Patrick’s day would undoubtedly get the salivary glands pumping among his massive travelling fanbase, those same folk are already very eager to see ‘The Notorious’ one back in MMA action. Due to his decision to take time away from the sport to await the birth of his first child after his lightweight championship triumph over Eddie Alvarez last November and his subsequent foray into professional boxing, McGregor has already been out of the octagon for over ten months. December 30th would make it over thirteen months and Paddy’s day would make it over 16.
Whatever about the fans, a third fight between McGregor and Diaz in March would seriously irk the lightweight division’s long-suffering top contenders. Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee are scheduled to meet for an interim title at the beginning of next month, but if McGregor fights Diaz in March, the winner of that fight won’t get the opportunity to unify for 8, 9, 10 months, a year even.
Interestingly, Kavanagh was unperturbed by the plight of the likes of Ferguson, Lee and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“At this stage, I mention Diaz and people are shouting, ‘What about Khabib?’ or, ‘What about Tony?’… And there’s Kevin Lee and some other guys, (people say) ‘They’re due their shot,'” said Kavanagh.
“Really, Conor doesn’t have to do that anymore. He won the featherweight belt, interim and unified. He won the lightweight belt. At this stage he’s only doing fights because they’re fun. A big fight build-up and to win that — that will do for me anyway.”