If Conor McGregor plans on fighting again, he’s going to have to do a pretty good job of convincing John Kavanagh to train him.
The Irishman returned to the MMA following a nearly two-year hiatus against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, where he fell to his Dagestani rival by fourth-round submission. After the bout, a brawl ensued and both McGregor and Nurmagomedov are still facing discipline for their actions in that incident. As a result, there would seem to be plenty of heat surrounding a potential rematch between the two lightweights.
However, Kavanagh, McGregor’s head trainer, told the Daily Independent in a recent interview that he isn’t sure that, or any fight, is in the cards for the “Notorious” one.
“Honestly? I don't know. Will he fight again? I don't know,” Kavanagh said. “I know him as a person and know that coming off two losses -- even though one was boxing -- will be hard for him. But he's 30, two kids, and has a big whiskey deal that's making him more money than fighting ever did. Would you get up in the morning to be punched in the face? I don't think so. But he'll probably call me tomorrow and say: 'What did you say that for? I'm fighting in March.' So I don't know.”
If McGregor did indeed call Kavanagh wanting to compete, the SGB Ireland leader admits that “he would certainly have to convince me to go again.” The intention would seem to be for McGregor to continue competing in the Octagon, especially considering that he signed a long-term deal prior to UFC 229.
For Kavanagh, the opponent can’t be just anybody the UFC picks if he is going to be involved.
“I love the whole journey we've had but I'd need a good 'why'. It might be Diaz again because he promised that fight. It might be a rematch with Khabib,” Kavanagh said. “But if it was just: 'Well, they want me to fight that guy' I think I'd say, 'I wish you the best.'”
Kavanagh would stand to lose out on a massive payday if he elected to step aside for McGregor’s next UFC appearance. The coach seems to understand the consequences of such a choice, if it does indeed come to that. He claims to be more concerned about McGregor’s long-term health.
“It would [be a significant decision] but again, I'll come back to my reasoning,” Kavanagh said. “He has a wife and two kids now and I don't want him taking more hits than he needs to. Khabib hit him with a punch in that fight that he has never been hit with in his career. And even Superman slows down at some stage.”