The destiny of the light-weight title can be determined this weekend when UFC champion Charles Oliveira defends his belt towards top-ranked challenger Dustin Poirier at UFC 269.
However one other former UFC light-weight champion may have a detailed eye on the matchup as nicely, particularly contemplating his latest historical past with Poirier. That man? Conor McGregor.
McGregor remains to be sidelined whereas recovering from the damaged leg he suffered in his trilogy bout towards Poirier in July, nevertheless the previous two-division king has been a vocal observer of the light-weight title chase on social media all through his absence, and stays on monitor for a return to motion someday in 2022. When requested for a choice of opponents for McGregor’s potential comeback bout on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, the Irishman’s longtime head coach John Kavanagh had a couple of acquainted names on the prepared.
“I’ll be sincere, the Nate Diaz trilogy could be very, very tempting,” Kavanagh revealed on The MMA Hour. “It’s a combat that offers me nightmares. The person doesn’t cease coming ahead, whether or not it’s three rounds or 5 rounds, nevertheless it’s an intriguing combat. In order that one is unquestionably very attention-grabbing. But additionally the Tony Ferguson one — it by no means occurred. It was talked about quite a bit. And Tony nonetheless has, I imagine, quite a bit to supply the sport. He’s a really unorthodox striker, grappler. I feel the buildup could be enjoyable for the followers. So any of these form of legacy guys.”
McGregor (22-6) clearly has performed huge enterprise with Diaz prior to now. Their two clashes at UFC 196 and UFC 202 had been monumentally large affairs again in 2016, with the latter even rating as essentially the most bought MMA pay-per-view of all-time till it was surpassed by UFC 229. With McGregor’s standing as essentially the most bankable star in MMA historical past and Diaz’s standing as a cult icon and perennial fan favourite, a trilogy match between them would doubtless be a profitable proposition for all concerned, even regardless of each fighters being on dropping streaks.
Ferguson, too, is a reputation that McGregor has been linked to prior to now. “El Cucuy” captured an interim UFC light-weight title in 2017 and was ostensibly imagined to problem McGregor in a title unification match, nevertheless the bout by no means got here collectively.
Both manner, Kavanagh indicated that he expects McGregor to eye the light-weight ranks for his return.
”Look, that division is killer,” Kavanagh mentioned. “Your Dan Hooker’s in there. The Islam [Makhachev] combat could be superb as nicely, for apparent causes. And now we have whoever goes to win this belt arising this Saturday. So, look, any of these names. I’m simply excited to see Conor again wholesome, coaching.”
It’d be an understatement to say that McGregor’s plans lately haven’t precisely gone because the fighter and his staff have hoped. After intentions for a busy 2020 marketing campaign fell aside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, “The Infamous” returned in 2021 solely to endure back-to-back losses to Poirier seven years after his knockout win over the American at UFC 178.
The injury McGregor suffered along with his grisly leg break in July was the kind of harm that might’ve simply spelled the top of his profession. McGregor is, by far, the highest-earning UFC fighter in historical past, and Kavanagh admitted that he was uncertain how an athlete with McGregor’s degree of wealth and fame would deal with such adversity.
However the SBG Eire coach mentioned Monday that he’s been inspired by how McGregor has responded. He ensured that McGregor’s aggressive fireplace stays as fiercely lit as ever.
“I puzzled what would occur after this harm,” Kavanagh mentioned. “It’s a protracted highway again to restoration. The boy, it’s not a secret, he’s bought a few quid within the financial institution. He might clearly go off and reside on an island and play on his yacht for the remainder of his life. However I’ve not seen one % drop in his unbelievable drive and need and keenness and curiosity within the sport. I’ve mentioned it to you a lot occasions, I’ve mentioned it to all people, that in case you can do away with cash issues, you actually discover out what it’s you’re keen about, since you’ll solely do one thing you actually take pleasure in. He’s nonetheless within the health club, all day, day-after-day.
“We’re nonetheless chatting about preventing methods, all day, day-after-day. He’s nonetheless speaking about getting that belt once more, all day, day-after-day. What are you able to conclude from this? He loves preventing. He loves blended martial arts. He loves competitors. So let’s get again wholesome, let’s get again coaching, and let’s go on a run in ‘22, and I’m certain there’s some individuals there with steam popping out of their ears that he’s coming again for that belt, however I’m sorry to upset you — he’s coming again there for that belt, so give me your greatest shot on Twitter.”