It appears that MMa superstar Conor McGregor is planning a return to UFC in the not-so-distant future.
John Kavanagh, the head coach of the UFC’s megastar, said that the former featherweight and lightweight champion, who is currently facing legal issues in New York, is involved in “ongoing” negotiations for a potential return, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
UFC is looking to book a fight between undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) and McGregor (21-3).
McGregor, 29, hasn’t fought in MMA since back in November 2016.
“I really have seen the spark back lately,” Kavanagh said. “I think that was directed at other areas of his life for a while, building up his business world — which is completely justified. We all know the hard-luck stories of fighters retiring broke. They get pats on the back and they’re forgotten.
“I supported [McGregor focusing on other business] and I’m fully behind it, but I do see the spark back. I do see him very hungry, coming down to regular jiu-jitsu class and throwing a gi on. Strength and conditioning. There’s a real fire back.”
Kavanagh is supportive of McGregor in and out of the octagon, despite all of the drama that has, at times, engulfed him.
“It is what it is. I don’t really have a comment on that,” Kavanagh said. “Conor is a man. He’s his own person. He’s very busy with what he’s doing outside the gym. I’m super busy with what I’m doing outside and inside the gym.
“I love him to bits. He’s been my kid brother for over 10 years. I am behind him 100 percent. Is he perfect? No. Are you? No. Am I? No. But I know he’s a good person. I’ve seen all the good stuff he’s done. He’s incredibly loyal. He’s a great teammate. What can I say? I support him.”
Kavanagh also commented on McGregor potential returning to a hectic, and busy, fight schedule upon his return.
“I think it’s the normal evolution of a guy from his early 20s, approaching 30,” Kavanagh said. “But don’t get me wrong. I am, first and foremost, an MMA fan. That’s what got me into this. I think Conor is one of the greatest fighters of all time.
“The selfish side of me is probably shoving him in the back a little more. I want to make sure he’s set, which he is more than set. I’m his coach, I’ve invested a lot of time and energy, and you want to see that skill set used in the sport.
“You best believe I’d be behind it. I’d love it. It’s so much fun. The experience of training him and coming out [to Las Vegas] for a couple weeks. The lead-up and buildup, the fight. There’s just a different feel to a Conor McGregor fight.”
Kavangh also commented on McGregor’s potential next opponent.
“It’s a cliché to say, but it’s a classic striker versus grappler,” Kavanagh commented. “Khabib needs to get into that clinch, join his hands and start chaining his takedowns together. Obviously, we need to try and prevent that.
“I think a lot of people are so afraid of Khabib’s grappling, they don’t engage with him. Conor is a good grappler. I know that will get a lot of people upset when I say that, but watch his fights. There’s plenty of evidence to support that claim. I’m feeling and he’s feeling confident, wherever the fight goes. But [the left hand] will be the difference in the fight.”