Conor McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh doesn’t foresee his charge returning to action before the year is out.
McGregor’s professional boxing debut on August 26th ended in defeat, as he was stopped inside ten rounds by returning former pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Though the Irishman has refused to rule out a return to the boxing ring in the future, he is expected to turn his attention back to MMA and defend the UFC lightweight title that he ripped from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in New York last November in his next contest.
Prior to the Mayweather fight, UFC president Dana White had suggested that McGregor would defend the title before the end of the year and talk coming out of the SBG Ireland fighter’s camp seemed to concur.
However, writing for the42.ie on Wednesday, Kavanagh claimed that a second 2017 bout now looks unlikely.
“It’s probably a little late in the day to realistically expect another fight before the end of the year, because even after this hiatus is over, a lot goes into the planning and execution of a training camp at our level,” wrote the SBG Ireland founder. “I find it hard to envisage another fight in 2017.”
The esteemed trainer did go on to note though, that the unpredictable McGregor could suddenly decide on a whim that he wants to fit in one more contest before the year is out.
“Then again, knowing Conor, I could get a text message tonight telling me otherwise,” he wrote. “He’s difficult to predict, which is one of the many reasons why he’s so fascinating.”
Echoing the sentiments expressed by McGregor’s striking coach Owen Roddy on last night’s edition of The MMA Hour, Kavanagh also wrote that Nate Diaz is his preferred opponent for McGregor’s eventual first lightweight title defence.
“I’ve said for a long time that the Nate Diaz trilogy fight at lightweight is what I’d personally like to see next,” stated Kavanagh. “That still needs to be put to bed.”
Diaz submitted McGregor inside two rounds at UFC 196 back in March of last year, inflicting a first UFC defeat upon the Dubliner. McGregor subsequently gained a measure of revenge over the belligerent Stocktonite in August of 2016, winning a five-round rematch via majority decision. Both those fights were contested at the welterweight limit of 170lbs, but Diaz remains ranked at lightweight, where he competed from 2011-2015. With the pair tied at a win a piece, a third fight seems inevitable at some point down the line.
Due to the fact that McGregor has been inactive since last November, the UFC have created an interim title at 155lbs and tossed it between a pair of top contenders. On October 7th, at UFC 216 in Las Vegas, Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee will fight for the strap.
Kavanagh, however, doesn’t feel as though a fight with either man is particularly appealing or exciting at present. Considering the magnitude of McGregor’s last few fights, one can understand why.
“Even though Conor is the champion, I know there’s an interim lightweight title fight coming up between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee,” Kavanagh wrote. “To be completely honest, I didn’t actually know who Kevin was until very recently,”
“Tony is a solid fighter but he doesn’t have the kind of appeal that would get your blood racing, particularly in the context of coming from the excitement of the Nate Diaz rematch, the historical significance of beating Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden, and the novelty of facing the greatest boxer of his generation.”
Unfortunately, after the gargantuan Mayweather fight, there really is nowhere else to go but backwards for McGregor in terms of scale and magnitude.