James Gallagher: Conor McGregor is “better than ever” ahead of UFC 229 return

James Gallagher, Conor McGregor

Bellator bantamweight contender James Gallagher, one of Conor McGregor’s training partners at SBG Ireland, says the Irish MMA superstar is looking good as he prepares for his UFC 229 showdown with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. In fact, Gallagher claims McGregor is looking better than ever.

“[Conor] looks better than ever,” Gallagher told MMA Fighting‘s Peter Carroll this week. “He’s got that fire back inside of him. When you’re on the top of the world like he’s been for so long, you need to chill out for a little bit to get that hunger back. It’s hard to keep that hunger when you have everything that you’ve ever wanted.

“While he’s been away, Khabib has been creating some hype and getting himself in a position to fight Conor,” Gallagher continued. “There are a lot of people who see Khabib as a serious threat, so I think that’s given Conor a push to step up and say, ‘Nah, mate, I’m the champ around here — you’re not on my level.’ I think Conor’s going to show Khabib who’s boss and put him back in his box.”

As James Gallagher implies, Conor McGregor is fabulously wealthy, and probably doesn’t need  to fight again. Yet Gallagher believes McGregor is motivated by the challenge of handing Khabib Nurmagomedov his first loss.

“Conor could wipe his ass every morning with a €500 note and it would be just a drop in the ocean for him, so the real part of this he’s interested in is the challenge,” he explained. “You can buy all the cars and everything else, but you can’t buy a challenge like this. The thrill of competition is what is driving him.”

“Conor has beaten everyone the UFC have put in front of him. He climbed to the top of a division and he won a belt, then he won another belt…he loves a challenge. People are saying that Khabib is the guy now and I know that Conor is thinking, ‘I’m going to show all of these people again’. He’s got a fire inside of him to show everyone who is the boss.”

How do you think Conor McGregor will look in his long-awaited return to the cage?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/17/2018.