Conor McGregor's longtime coach is fully confident that the UFC star will return to the Octagon this year
- Coach John Kavanagh fully expects Conor McGregor to return to the Octagon in 2023.
- "I'd be willing to bet my house" that the Irishman fights this year, he said.
Conor McGregor's longtime MMA coach John Kavanagh sounds fully confident that the UFC star will return to the Octagon this year.
"I'd be willing to bet my house" that McGregor fights in 2023, Kavanagh said on MMA Fighting's "MMA Hour." "I think there's some interesting negotiations going along now."
Jiu-jitsu specialist Kavanagh said that when McGregor walks back into his fight club in Dublin and says there's an opponent lined up to train for, he'll be looking for one clear thing from him: motivation.
Kavanagh wants to see McGregor fired up and desperate to not only compete but also to train for a very specific fighter, one that can awaken a desire within him to compete at the highest echelons of ultimate fighting.
"Let's say I'm seeing Conor this week and we're chatting and he says a few names and I see a name that particularly gets the eyes open, particularly gets his pacing up and down the living room and showing me what he's going to do and what he's not going to do — that would be absolutely the most important thing for me, is that it's a name that's going to excite him," said Kavanagh.
The right opponent will keep McGregor motivated to train every day in camp, Kavanagh said
"Because for Conor, for training for this next fight, he's definitely got to find something that's massively motivating to him to get him out of the silk pants and into the sweaty gym," the coach said.
"What's it going to be? A couple million more? Is that really going to motivate him? I don't think so. He has a couple championship belts. Is that it? I don't think so.
"So I think it's more going to be a particular opponent, a particular skill set and how it matches up against him."
McGregor has not competed since he suffered a broken leg at the end of the first round of his third fight with Dustin Poirier, at UFC 264 in July 2021.
The crushing defeat was the fourth time McGregor tasted defeat in all combat sports in five years.
Aside from a 40-second quickfire win over Donald Cerrone in January 2020, McGregor hasn't won since 2016, taking a UFC lightweight title over Eddie Alvarez.
Kavanagh named three UFC stars as viable opponents for McGregor's return
In the time that he's been away, the lightweight division remains red hot, and there are numerous opponents who appear to be viable challengers for McGregor's comeback bid.
Kavanagh even had a few names in mind.
"You've got the great Nate Diaz is obviously in there," he said.
"Justin Gaethje would be a very interesting matchup" because he's "somebody he hasn't fought before.
"The Poirier fight, we've done that so many times at this stage and it's just a weird one," Kavanagh said, adding: "Michael Chandler is a great fighter, a great athlete.
"They're all brilliant. They're all going to bring something different to the contest."
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