Kavanagh floats Justin Gaethje fight at 170 for McGregor
Smiling as he delivered this fight proposal, 'Coach' fully expected this one to be picked up.
John Kavanagh has admitted elements of Conor McGregor's last UFC fight camp were "heartbreaking" but he has seen his fighter refocused and duly renewed.
Kavanagh is with Team McGregor in Las Vegas ahead of The Notorious' comeback fight, on January 18, against Donald Cerrone. Considering the words Kavanagh spoke not long after McGregor's UFC 229 loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, it is a pleasant surprise to hear such positive reports from this fight camp.
A week after Nurmagomedov submitted the Dubliner to retain his lightweight title, Kavanagh spoke about a text exchange he had with his fighter. McGregor stressed that he wanted to fight again and Kavanagh replied:
"'Great, if we're going to do it, let's do it', but I would change a few things around.
"Even from a training stand-point, we would have to go... it's kind of funny - and to use a ridiculous analogy - it's a bit like Rocky III. We had this up-and-coming guy and I want to go back and get the eye of the tiger.
"Go back to this old-school gym and just kind of disappear. Get me, Conor, Artem (Lobov) and Peter (Queally) and that kind of crew, and just disappear for three months. And really put in an old-school training camp; a nightmarish training camp."
15 months have passed since that loss to Nurmagomedov and McGregor has opted to fight Cerrone at 170 lbs and leave himself open and ready for fights in the light- and welterweight divisions.
Kavanagh is happy that his fighter does not have to go through the fight week rigours of cutting about 15 lbs in water weight only to gain it again in the 24 hours before the main event bout. Kavanagh would be equally content if McGregor's next bout was also at welterweight.
"Let's say his next fight is Justin (Gaethje)," he told Ariel Helwani's MMA Show. "Just to pull an example out.
"Fight Justin at 170. I don't really see the point in him going to 155 unless it's for a belt. Him and Justin are both around 170ish, so what's the point in them both arriving on fight week [at] 170ish, spending a few days trying to get down weight, weighing in and then, the next day, being about 170ish? So just fight without the hassle of a weight cut.
"It's bizarre that we use that language - 'Oh, that's his natural weight'. No it's not. No it's not. 170 is his natural weight. And I'd imagine someone like Justin is not far off 170; maybe 175. That's Conor's natural weight so just fight at that unless it's for something major like a title."
Take away the weight cuts, John Kavanagh argues, and it would mean McGregor would be able to compete more often. Saying that, Kavanagh is not full on pressing the case for McGregor-Gaethje but he would prefer any such bout to take place in the welterweight division. Kavanagh also spoke of McGregor staying fit and ready should either Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson pull out of their scheduled UFC 249 lightweight title fight.
As for Gaethje, McGregor insists he is on a long hit-list.
"A lot of people are saying certain things, are following these narratives, these vicious narratives that are going around about me," McGregor told Helwani. "And I'm like, I'm putting that off on the back burner for a minute.
"But I'll get to Justin. He's been knocked out by Dustin Poirier. He was knocked out by Eddie Alvarez. I'll get to him. That's a handy one. That is a true handy fight for me."