Following Conor McGregor's UFC 229 loss, John Kavanagh seemed unsure of his student's fighting future. Six months later though, and Kavanagh's perspective has changed.
Last December, Kavanagh spoke openly about McGregor's career, admitting that he'd need convincing before returning to train Conor for another fight. Appearing on this week's Ariel Helwani's MMA Show though, Kavanagh explained those comments further and even detailed what's changed since. “I guess what I was really trying to say was ‘I really want him motivated,'" he said.
"You probably saw the Tony Robbins interview where he spoke about losing that for a bit. This is a game where it’s full on, it’s full contact, it’s dangerous. When he won the 2nd belt, when he beat Eddie, he’d achieved everything he’d set out to achieve. He was very wealthy, he was world champion. You’ve got to then take some time and think well, ‘what’s gonna motivate you to do it anymore?’"
Kavanagh says that the issue wasn't lost on McGregor either but in recent months, he's answered that question, reigniting his love for the sport. "He said himself that became a bit of a problem. What is it? Is it get another belt? Is it make some more money? I think what’s come back around is that he realizes it’s the love of the sport. He loves doing it, he loves training, he loves competing. And legacy, that he’s remembered as being one of the best, if not the best ever.
"So that’s what’s really come back into him since the beginning of the year. And that’s what I wanted to see because he’s obviously a very well-known student of mine but he’s also like a kid brother. I wouldn’t want to see him doing something just for the sake of doing it and maybe getting hurt or whatever because he’s not fully there. But now he absolutely is, we’re having a lot of deep conversations about technical sequences and training regimes and so on. It really reminds me of his rise, and to see that again is exciting."
With that in mind, Kavanagh says that he indeed expects McGregor to fight his year. However, Kavanagh did discuss Conor's recent hand injury and confirmed that he'd undergone surgery as a result.
McGregor hasn't fought since October last year, being submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. Post-fight, a now infamous scuffle commenced, with McGregor receiving a six month suspension as well as a $50,000 fine. As his foe moves beyond that saga though, McGregor looks set to do the same, with his long-awaited return seemingly approaching.