Conor McGregor plans on capturing titles at 145, 155 and 170 pounds. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
To suggest that Conor McGregor is extremely ambitious would be a modest view of the Irish featherweight.
With his UFC 178 showdown with Dustin Poirier only days away, McGregor and his coach already have their eyes set on bigger and better things. And if you think “bigger and better” means a featherweight title opportunity, you aren’t thinking big enough.
In a recent interview with Irish website Severe MMA, trainer John Kavanagh discussed his expectations for his star pupil. Even in the early stages of McGregor’s UFC career, the bar has already been set extraordinarily high for the brash 26-year-old.
“It’s hard to put in words why I think he will be remembered as the greatest of all time,” Kavanagh said. “I do think that he will definitely be a two-weight world champion -- that’s a given -- and I think with a certain set of circumstances he will be the first and only three-weight division UFC champion. That would be at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight.”
Considering that McGregor has yet to secure a title at featherweight makes such an ostentatious statement difficult to believe. However, McGregor echoed his coach’s statements and explained why he could eventually hold three different titles.
“I already feel like the featherweight champion, and all I have to do is take everyone out,” McGregor said. “That’s what I’m here to do whether they like it or not.”
McGregor went on to suggest that he’s a relatively large featherweight who has a challenging weight cut, so eventually making a move to the 155-pound division is almost a certainty.
“I definitely have my eyes on the lightweight division,” he said. “Featherweight is a tough cut, but I’ll do it and clean out the division before I move up.”
McGregor has no plans to stop at 155, however, as he is already envisioning a run at the welterweight division. He says that he spends much of his time at the Straight Blast Gym training with 170 pounders and points out that his height (5-foot-9) and reach (73 inches) is right on par with other welterweights.
“I believe there are already a lot of welterweights that I can beat without a doubt,” McGregor said.
In McGregor’s mind, the only thing that stands in the way of a welterweight title run has nothing to do with competition. Rather, it is his sometime SBG Ireland teammate who he believes will be holding the 170-pound title by the time he begins his move through the weight classes.
“Gunnar Nelson will be the future 170 champion,” he said. “After I win the featherweight title, I’ll take that 155 strap and I believe Gunnar will have the 170 title at the same time, so we’ll see what happens from there. But he’s a (weight class) drifter like me.”
To anybody else, McGregor and Kavanagh have quite the elaborate imagination. With business still to take care of at UFC 178, talk of McGregor winning one title, much less three, is a tad premature. But to be ambitious is the name of the game at SBG Ireland.
“It’s not hard for me to imagine that scenario,” Kavanagh explained in his interview. “I think two people have already done it in two weight classes and even then they did in a time that was a little different -- the skill set was a little bit lower.”
To hear them tell it, Poirier is little more than rubble on the road to greatness. Although McGregor maintains that he’s not looking past his opponent on Saturday, he certainly sees a future where he becomes one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
“I believe in my coach and he believes in me,” McGregor says. “There are no limits to this. This whole game is mine.”