Coach John Kavanagh reveals his preferred opponent for Conor McGregor's next fight
Conor McGregor may want his next fight to be inside a boxing ring, but John Kavanagh would prefer if it wasn't.
All the talk may be on this crossover spectacle against a middle-aged Floyd Mayweather, but it's difficult to ignore the very important fight happening this weekend in the division that Conor McGregor is champion of.
The interim UFC lightweight championship will be decided in the 'people's main event' of UFC 209. Sambo master Khabib Nurmagomedov will be looking to keep his pristine professional record intact against the free-form jazz stylings of Tony Ferguson.
Traditionally, an interim strap represents a one-way ticket to a title unification bout against whoever's sitting on the throne at the time. However, as we've seen recently, the new ownership of the UFC have a tendency to not go by the book when it comes to setting up title fights. Georges St-Pierre skipping Yoel Romero in the queue to fight Michael Bisping is a prime example of this.
Arguably the greatest fighter ever has an opponent https://t.co/xk7J0lRViP
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 1, 2017
SBG head coach John Kavanagh believes that McGregor will probably get that diamond-encrusted panty night against Mayweather. He is relishing the challenge and the spectacle of fighting an elite pugilist, but that isn't the match-up he would like to see the Notorious take next as he told Submission Radio.
"My love is MMA. That's the sport that I love. I think any other combat sport is a subset of mixed martial arts. Mixed martial arts is the freest form of combat sport there is. So, that's my love."
"I'm a big fan of Conor's fighting in MMA. My number one thing would be Conor to fight MMA. That's my number one thing. That's my selfish number one that I'd like to see."
Unsurprisingly, top of his list of preferred fights would be the completion of the trilogy grudge match against the only man to beat McGregor inside the Octagon, Nate Diaz. As Kavanagh sees it, there's a score to be settled. He also has his eye on that title unification bout.
"Which opponent? Like I've said before the Nate rematch interests me very much because it's 1-1 and I like how the styles match up. Almost on a par with that, not much different, would be the winner of Khabib-Ferguson this weekend. I think Khabib does it, so he would be the match up out of that."
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After that, Kavanagh would be interested in the biggest fight the UFC could possibly make, although the unknowns surrounding Georges St-Pierre's development has taken the shine off that fight slightly.
"Below that would be GSP, purely because GSP was an incredible fighter, big fan of him, learned a lot from watching his fights, but it's a long time since he's fought. The game changes very quickly and I think Khabib is sort of like a better version of GSP, although we don't know how GSP and Khabib would match up."
For MMA fans worried about the prospect of losing McGregor forever after he fights Mayweather, Kavanagh dropped a comment that should put their minds at ease. He's certain that McGregor will return to the cage and that a fight against the newly-crowned interim 155 lb king will happen down the line.
"I find it hard to imagine not seeing that. If and when the Mayweather fight was to happen and he got that out of the way, like myself I know his first love is free combat sports and there is no freer combat sports than mixed martial arts."
Thank Christ for that.