Coach John Kavanagh believes Conor McGregor should fight the winner of Ferguson vs. Khabib before he rematches Nate Diaz.
A trilogy bout between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz does seem inevitable, especially given the overwhelming pay-per-view success of their first two fights at UFC 196 and UFC 202.
With that said, SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh believes there is currently more demand to see McGregor take on the winner of the upcoming lightweight championship tilt between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223.
Kavanagh, McGregor’s long-time coach and mentor, believes Diaz has slipped off the radar due to his inactivity. The Stockton local hasn’t fought since August, 2016, when he dropped a unanimous decision to McGregor at UFC 202.
‘The Notorious’, on the other hand, went on to capture the lightweight strap and challenge pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the boxing ring, participating in one of the biggest fights in combat sports history.
“Conor’s had an MMA fight and a boxing fight since and we haven’t seen Nate since,” Kavanagh said in a recent interview with The Mac Life, per MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew. So it started changing and you could see it amongst the fans who are – I’ve always said and I still believe – are the most important factor in all of this because they pay for the Pay-Per-Views, and that’s what they want to see. But you can see it was clearly becoming that they wanted to see either Khabib or Tony in there rather than [Nate], probably for the same reason that we didn’t: Nate didn’t keep busy. So I don’t think it would be quite right for that to happen before the winner of [Khabib]-Tony, because Conor, [Khabib], and Tony have kept busy and Nate hasn’t.”
Diaz, 32, is still the only fighter to beat McGregor in the Octagon, handing the Irishman his first loss in six years in a short-notice welterweight scrap at UFC 196.
Kavanagh, who believes McGregor and Diaz have a ‘beautiful relationship’ both inside and outside the cage, thinks Diaz should take another fight — possibly against Tyron Woodley — before setting his sights on McGregor.
“I think Nate should get one in in the meantime,” he said. “Him vs. Woodley, I hear there are rumors of that or him against a good lightweight, and if the MMA gods smile, it would be a victory for him. Conor fights the winner of [Khabib-Tony] and then you’ve got this amazing superfight for New Year’s Eve.”
After spending almost two years on the sidelines, fan favorite Diaz said he is ‘sick of sitting around’ and believes a welterweight championship showdown against Woodley is the ‘best option’.
Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov, which is expected to headline the upcoming UFC 223 PPV on April 7, has been billed as a lightweight title fight. McGregor, however, is still the official 155-pound champion and there’s been no word from UFC president Dana White on whether the Dubliner will be stripped. Many fighters anticipate that McGregor will be relinquished of the belt when Ferguson and Nurmagomedov weigh in on the eve of UFC 223.