Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor . Photo by Vince Cachero/MMAnytt

McGregor’s Coach Shoots Down Return in 2017, Wants Nate Diaz on St. Paddy’s Day

Conor McGregor's head coach gives his thoughts on what comes next for the UFC lightweight champion

Conor McGregor may be plotting his return to the UFC but from the look of things it won’t be until 2018.

The reigning lightweight champion has been out of action in mixed martial arts since last November when he defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the first ever simultaneous two division champion in UFC history.

McGregor then took part in the mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather in August that will likely earn him north of $100 million. Following that fight, McGregor announced his intention to return to the UFC but rumors have been swirling that he may book a fight before the end of the year.

McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh has now officially shut down that possibility.

“December 30th is definitely not happening,” Kavanagh said when speaking to Mike Sheridan at the launch of the Original Penguin AW17 collection (via MMAFighting)

“I don’t know how these things get started, but they have a certain way of gaining momentum.”

McGregor is currently with his manager Audie Attar from Paradigm Sports Management in Ireland discussing various business dealings, which may ultimately include his next fight in the UFC.

Kavanagh readily admits that he doesn’t try to exert too much influence over McGregor’s decisions in opponents or dates to fight, but he definitely has an opinion on who and when he’d like to see the Irish superstar return to action.

“If it was my choice, and I must stress that this is only my choice and that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, it would be Nate Diaz in March. That’s what I would push towards,” Kavanagh said.

“I have in my head that it would be a Paddy’s Day card in New York, Nate Diaz 3. I think that would be absolutely amazing. That’s what I would wish for. That’s what I’ll be leaning towards with my 0.1 percent influence when I meet with Conor and Audie tomorrow. I want Diaz 3, Paddy’s Day in New York.”

As much as Kavanagh would like the card in New York, Madison Square Garden is already booked for a basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Charlotte Hornets on St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 2018.

Of course, Kavanagh is just floating his idea out there for a fight, but it’s hard to deny that McGregor vs. Diaz 3 on St. Patrick’s Day, which would also be just over two years removed from their first fight in March 2016, seems like a perfect time for the trilogy.


As much as a third fight between McGregor and Diaz will appease fans and likely earn the UFC the biggest possible pay-per-view in the company right now, the matchup might not sit so well with other lightweights champing at the bit to get a shot at the title.

In fact, Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee will battle for an interim lightweight title next weekend at UFC 216 in McGregor’s absence from the sport.

While all of those potential fights might make sense on paper, Kavanagh says there are a litany of reasons why Diaz is the perfect opponent to welcome McGregor back to the Octagon while also settling some unfinished business after each of them has a win over the other.

“I always think that if I was develop a fighter that would give Conor his best or worst night, either way you look at it, I would come up with Nate Diaz,” Kavanagh said. “He can walk through anything, he can match him somewhat in the trash talk and then you have the thing between Conor’s crew and his crew.

“For a bunch of reasons [Diaz is the right fight]. It’s not just about being the right guy — that’s all amateur level. This is professional and it’s about entertainment. [MMA] is part sport, part entertainment and I just find it hard to think of a better build-up and a better show than that trilogy fight.”

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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.