After taking two years off from mixed martial arts (MMA), Conor McGregor returned to action at UFC 229 last Saturday night (Oct. 6, 2018) in Las Vegas, Nevada, to face perhaps the most dominant force in the history of the division in Khabib Nurmagomedov
And just as many expected, “The Eagle” was aggressive from the jump, taking down McGregor at will and pounding him into the canvas before submitting him in the fourth round to retain his Lightweight title (see it again here).
While a tune-up fight would’ve been a good idea for McGregor to get his feet back under him, his head trainer, John Kavanagh, says that simply isn’t the type of fighter he is. Which is the reason the mouthy Irishman won’t take a warm-up fight before rematching “The Eagle.”
“He absolutely could, and he absolutely wouldn’t,” Kavanagh said during a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “It was like when he lost to Diaz, backstage he was screaming and shouting at all the top brass he wanted the rematch at 170 as quick as possible. I’m in the background saying, ‘No, please don’t,’” he joked.
“Did you not see that fight? He’s a terrifying individual. Let’s get a 155 fight and then you meet him again,” he added regarding the loss to Diaz at UFC 196. “But he was not letting that go. So four months later he fought the exact same guy. So that’s all I’m hearing from him.”
McGregor went on to get some revenge on Diaz at UFC 202, defeating him via unanimous decision after getting choked out by the Stockton slugger months prior. According to Kavanagh, he would be more offensive-minded heading into the rematch against Khabib, saying there were plenty of opportunities where he felt McGregor didn’t capitalize on openings. He also admits the majority of their recent camp was stressed on defense.
Still, a rematch is far from a done deal as Khabib has to first deal with any potential fine or suspension that could come his way once Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) completes its investigation for the post-fight melee. While an instant do-over doesn’t seem to make sense due to the one-sided loss, financially it’s something UFC won’t ignore and could very well stage if “Notorious” pushed hard enough.
Should the instant rematch see the light of day, you can bet the “real Lightweight champion” won’t be too happy.