In the aftermath of his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by 10th-round TKO, many have wondered what was next for two-time UFC champion Conor McGregor. While Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee are fighting for the interim lightweight title next month at UFC 216, the possibility of McGregor fighting Nate Diaz for a third time has also been raised.
With regards to Diaz, there was the thought that the two would get into the Octagon to settle their rivalry in December. In a column written for The42.ie, John Kavanagh, McGregor’s UFC coach, wrote that he it’s unlikely that his protégé fights again in 2017.
“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,” Kavanagh wrote. “I find it hard to envisage another fight in 2017.
“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.”
Kavangh also stated that he would prefer McGregor face Diaz next, as opposed to the winner of the Ferguson vs. Lee fight. While the styles and the prior history would be great from a sales standpoint in a third bout between McGregor and Diaz, a fight against either Ferguson or Lee may not have the same box-office appeal.
“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 wrote.
“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.”
Kavanagh’s comments come one day after Owen Roddy, Conor McGregor’s striking coach, said on “The MMA Hour” podcast that he would also prefer to see McGregor face Diaz in his return to the Octagon.