Conor McGregor’s rise to the top has been quick, but dominant. After returning from a torn ACL earlier this summer, McGregor took on Diego Brandao in his home country of Ireland in front of the Dublin crowd.
McGregor made short work of Brandao, winning the bout via TKO in just the first round. After that McGregor set his sights on the #5 ranked fighter, Dustin Poirier, who McGregor TKO’d in under two minutes at UFC 178. The win over Poirier extended McGregor’s win streak to 11, and extended his UFC record to 4-0.
The win over Poirier put McGregor at the #5 spot on the featherweight ladder according to the UFC’s official rankings. It also added McGregor’s name to the list of potential title contenders at 145 pounds.
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh spoke to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour to discuss what’s next for his prized pupil.
“I don’t know,” said John Kavanagh, McGregor’s head coach at Straight Blast Gym in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday’s The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “He’s kinda playing around with some different ideas. He’s saying maybe doing a 155 [pounds] fight before Christmas. I don’t really know. I guess this is up to, for him, and Uncle Frank [Frank Fertitta] or Big L [Lorenzo Fertitta]. And, of course, [UFC matchmaker Sean] Shelby and Joe Silva and all of those guys to kinda work out what the next step is.”
“I guess the featherweight top, the top tier guys are all so close now and there’s big contests already on the way. It can go one of many ways. It is the entertainment industry and I don’t think it’s any mystery to say who is getting the most numbers. It would seem obvious it should be Conor that’s next in line regardless of circumstances.
“But who knows? I guess we’ll kinda have to wait and see. Mends and Aldo is on pretty soon, so I’m looking forward to seeing that and how the other top featherweight fight play out.”
“I’ve said this before. I honestly believe it’s a little bit of a different path the Europeans take to get into the UFC. After his first fight in the UFC he was ready for the belt. [Max] Holloway did well, kind of surviving the three rounds even though [McGregor] basically had one leg. Has anyone else been out of the first round besides Holloway? No.”
“Dustin is an excellent martial artist, but there is a difference when Conor lands. I always see it. I’m in that corner. I see them walking towards him and the first shot lands and the eyes get a little bit wider because he really does hit like a pro boxing middleweight, never mind a MMA middleweight. Pro boxers know how to hit with different mechanics than your typical MMA guy that just swings his arm. You see that realization and suddenly they’re backing off and they start to crumble.”
Given McGregor’s high level of striking, Kavanagh believes there’s only one person worthy of fighting McGregor. None other than featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
“Aldo, he has a high-level striking background, maybe he’s the guy that can take some of those shots and be willing to stand there. I’m not sure because I don’t think he’s been hit this way either. I believe Conor’s been ready for that spot since day one and yeah, we’re ready to go if Mendes, for whatever reason, had to pull out. He would jump right in there in a heartbeat’s notice.”