Conor McGregor’s coach wants Nate Diaz next, doesn’t expect to return in 2017

Conor McGregor's head coach weighs in on what comes next

Conor McGregor definitely has a lot of options when he decides to fight again.

After making it almost 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather in his professional boxing debut, McGregor has been called out by former sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi for another matchup inside the ring while a string of contenders in the UFC are anxiously awaiting his return.

There’s also the matter of an interim lightweight champion being crowned in October as Tony Ferguson meets Kevin Lee in the main event at UFC 216.

As it stands, McGregor hasn’t made up his mind on which challenge he wants to face next, but if his head coach has anything to say about it, the reigning UFC lightweight champion will face a familiar foe in his return to action.

“I’ve said for a long time that the Nate Diaz trilogy fight at lightweight is what I’d personally like to see next. That still needs to be put to bed,” McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh said in a column penned for in Ireland.

McGregor and Diaz have split their first two fights after meeting twice in 2016 with each matchup ended up as one of the most lucrative events in UFC history.

A third fight would undoubtedly be big business for the UFC not to mention bringing a conclusion to one of the most hotly contested rivalries in the recent history of the sport.

As far as McGregor potentially unifying the title against either Ferguson or Lee, it doesn’t sound like Kavanagh has a ton of interest in that particular matchup at least right now anyways.

“Even though Conor is the champion, I know there’s an interim lightweight title fight coming up between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee. To be completely honest, I didn’t actually know who Kevin was until very recently,” Kavanagh said.

“Tony is a solid fighter but he doesn’t have the kind of appeal that would get your blood racing, particularly in the context of coming from the excitement of the Nate Diaz rematch, the historical significance of beating Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden, and the novelty of facing the greatest boxer of his generation.”


In regards to a timeline for his return to action, McGregor has previously teased that he hoped to fight Mayweather in August and then book a fight in the UFC before the end of the year.

Kavanagh doesn’t discount the chance that McGregor could change his mind at a moment’s notice and book a fight in 2017 but as of right now he doesn’t expect that to happen.

McGregor is currently on vacation celebrating a friend’s wedding but he would likely have to jump back into  a training camp relatively soon if he intended on fighting before 2017 is over.

“It’s probably a little late in the day to realistically expect another fight before the end of the year, because even after this hiatus is over, a lot goes into the planning and execution of a training camp at our level. I find it hard to envisage another fight in 2017,” Kavanagh wrote.

“Then again, knowing Conor, I could get a text message tonight telling me otherwise. He’s difficult to predict, which is one of the many reasons why he’s so fascinating.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.