‘Conor would have to convince me to go again’: Coach Kavanagh suggests split with McGregor
SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh, who has trained the Irish UFC champion since his teens, says that would need to be ‘convinced’ to corner Conor McGregor on his return to the UFC.
Kavanagh has been one of the constant pillars throughout McGregor’s ascent up the combat sports hierarchy, overseeing the Dubliner’s rise from the regional European mixed martial arts scene to the sport’s very summit but, according to comments he made in an interview with Ireland’s Sunday Independent, their partnership may be coming to an end.
McGregor’s next move is still unclear. The Irishman suffered a fourth-round submission defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in early October in the UFC 229 headliner in Las Vegas and it remains to be seen exactly who he would face, with names like Donald Cerrone, Dustin Poirier, Nate Diaz and even a Nurmagomedov rematch mooted.
For Kavanagh though, he says that he needs some clarity before committing to another UFC bout with his most famous student.
"Well, he would certainly have to convince me to go again," Kavanagh said of McGregor.
"I love the whole journey we’ve had but I’d need a good 'why'," he explained. "It might be [Nate] Diaz again because he promised that fight. It might be a rematch with Khabib. But if it was just: 'Well, they want me to fight that guy' I think I’d say, 'I wish you the best.'"
Kavanagh elaborated further, adding that McGregor showed some chinks in his armour against Khabib - particularly in the second round when he was dropped for the first time in his career, courtesy of a monstrous overhand right.
"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."
However, Kavanagh admits that McGregor is one of sport's more volatile characters and says that even after more than a decade together, he has stopped trying to predict his next move.
"Honestly? I don't know. Will he fight again? I don't know. 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."