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11th Oct 2018

“Right, you’re done” – John Kavanagh on conversation that shocked Conor McGregor

Patrick McCarry

John Kavanagh

“How quick did you do that?… Yeah, I’ll do it quicker.”

That mentality, according to John Kavanagh, is what gets Conor McGregor out of bed every day. The competition. The desire to get one over the other guy and prove he is the best.

That is what led to McGregor shouting and screaming, backstage after UFC 229, for an immediate rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov. ‘The Eagle’ had dominated their lightweight title belt but McGregor felt he was holding his own until it all caved in during the fourth round.

The Dubliner has challengers lining up for a ‘money fight’ against him and he could have his pick of the UFC roster but that is not his style. Kavanagh, speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience, believes McGregor will be hell-bent on facing the Dagestani again.

McGregor will feel he has something to prove. A little under two years ago he had added the lightweight belt to the featherwight strap he won by knocking José Aldo out at UFC 194. He had achieved all he had set out to achieve in just three and a half years in the UFC.

Kavanagh recalled a conversation with McGregor, not long after he had defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, where he suggested he step away from the fight game. Speaking about the August 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, Kavanagh said:

“It’s kind of funny how that all came about, because when he fought Eddie in November, the year before, I remember the two of us were at a function and I kind of pulled him aside.

“I shook his hand and said, ‘Right, you’re done. All the best. Enjoy the rest of your life’.

“He was kind of shocked I was saying this to him. But I was like, what else are you going to do?

“You’re the two-weight champion and you’ve got out of the other end of this grind – this meat-grinder – with no damage. You’re in a very small percentage. You’ve made plenty of money. Off and enjoy yourself.”

‘He’s just that way’

McGregor had made enough money in MMA, and outside business interests, to set himself up for life. However, when a challenge was laid down, it did not take long for ‘The Notorious’ to take an interest.

“And then time went past,” John Kavanagh said. “A couple of months went past and the Mayweather fight started [being talked about], and I could understand it because now his grandkids were going to be financially secure. It made sense because it was going to be a big pay-day. It didn’t make sense for any other real reason.

“He enjoyed it from the competition side but no matter what you are doing with Conor it is going to be a competition. I don’t care what it is.

“It’s like, ‘How quick did you do that?’

‘I just went for a piss’.

‘Yeah, I’ll do it quicker’.

“He’s just that way. So when him and Floyd started having a back and forth, he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go into boxing and I’ll be the best boxer in the world’.”

Mayweather defeated McGregor by TKO in their August 2017 bout but many in his team genuinely felt he had a chance of causing an upset, especially after he rumbled Paulie Malignaggi in a sparring session, under a month out from the fight.

Kavanagh says there are ‘all sorts of crazy rumours’ around McGregor’s fight team and management team but securing a rematch with Nurmagomedov is the fighter’s priority.

Rogan addressed one of those rumours, which is a striking match against Mayweather inside The Octagon, and with 4oz. MMA gloves. “That is being talked about,” Kavanagh confirmed.

“I’m speaking to Conor, his management… [They] can only throw leg kicks.”

“That would be the end,” Rogan remarked. “If they allowed leg kicks, and only leg kicks – no head kicks – Conor would f**k him up. 100%.”

Despite this, McGregor is not keen and only wants to fight Mayweather again with either full boxing or full MMA rules.