Earlier this month, in the main event of UFC 229, former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor returned to the Octagon after two long years away, where he attempted to reclaim the UFC lightweight belt from undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Unfortunately for McGregor and his legions of fans, this mission didn’t go as planned. Instead, the Irish MMA star was soundly walloped en route to a fourth-round submission loss.
That being said, there’s already been substantial buzz about a potential rematch between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. And while this certainly isn’t the only option on the menu for McGregor, his coach John Kavanagh feels it might be the only fight that will get the former champ adequately motivated.
“I understand the thinking behind ‘we’ll fight that guy and then this guy and then that guy,'” Kavanagh told Ariel Helwani at Bellator 208 over the weekend. “But Conor has so much going on in his life, and I just don’t see him being overly enthused to face one of those [other] guys.”
“But to get that real fire in him… It kind of reminds me of [when] he lost to [Nate] Diaz,” he continued. “Just that real fire that was in him to get the rematch and train like an animal for it and go in and have, if not his best performance, a great fight.”
“So if we’re going to do that, I think it has to be Khabib. Would he have that same fire for a [Anthony] Pettis, [Tony] Ferguson? Not to take anything away, they’re great fighters. I’m not sure he would have that in him unless it was Khabib.”
For John Kavanagh, the best option for Conor McGregor is whichever fight truly get his blood pumping. In that respect, there’s just no better option than a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“What’s really lighting it for you?” He said. “What’s making your heart go on fire? Are you that excited to fight one of the top-10 guys to make a little money to add to your stack? Is that your motivation?”
“I think — I could be wrong — the real fire for him would be the Khabib rematch.”
Who do you think we’ll see Conor McGregor fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/14/2018.