If you thought there was a chance that Conor McGregor would step up on short notice and replace Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 249 later this month then coach John Kavanagh is here to ruin your weekend.
As UFC president Dana White desperately tries to keep UFC 249 on schedule as every other sports organization remains in limbo due to the COVID-19 outbreak, everything keeps falling apart for the premier MMA promotion. Not only are travel restrictions and countrywide shutdowns making it nearly impossible to find a new location for UFC 249, but Nurmagomedov essentially removed himself from his main event clash with Tony Ferguson earlier in the week.
With just two weeks remaining for White and company to pull off the unimaginable and host a UFC event during a worldwide pandemic, many people believed that McGregor could be a candidate to step up and fill in for Khabib. McGregor revealed earlier this week that he was “in shape to fight,” which immediately created speculation about his availability for the April 18th pay-per-view (PPV) card.
While McGregor has built his entire career around the notion that he would fight anybody at anytime, head coach John Kavanagh believes there is simply “no chance” the Irishman is able to be UFC 249’s savior. With heavy restrictions in Ireland and little time to prepare for a divisional stud like Ferguson, McGregor doesn’t have much of a choice at this point.
“No chance of that,” Kavanagh told ESPN on Friday via Instagram Live. “Ireland is on a pretty strict lockdown (due to coronavirus). Me and Conor have no physical interactions. There’s no physical interaction at the gym. Gyms are shut down.”
Even beyond the travel restrictions and limited gym access, fight fans have to consider that McGregor doesn’t need to fight at UFC 249 to provide for his family. Unlike many other fighters on the UFC roster, the Irish superstar doesn’t have to work another day in his life. In fact, McGregor has made enough money to support his future grandchildren if he really had to.
“To try and rush that together, I just don’t think it would be smart,” Kavanagh said. “He certainly isn’t fighting so that he has food for the next six months. That’s not where he is in his life.”
Well, that’s certainly a bummer. But even the great Conor McGregor can’t pull off another one of his magic tricks during a global COVID-19 takeover.
So if “Notorious” isn’t going to fill in on short notice and fight “El Cucuy” at UFC 249 then when will combat fans see him next?
According to Kavanagh, UFC was already angling to schedule McGregor against Justin Gaethje this July. But with Gaethje being a candidate to replace Khabib at UFC 249, along with the uncertainty that comes along with the coronavirus, everything is up in the air at this point.
“(Gaethje) was certainly one of the ones that was being talked about,” Kavanagh said. “That was right up there.”
With McGregor’s services unavailable at this time the promotion will have to look elsewhere to keep the UFC 249 train on the tracks.