Speaking at the BAMMA 26 press conference yesterday in Dublin, John Kavanagh said that Conor McGregor would make a decision on his next fight “within days”, as he set to return to Dublin.
At the UFC 202 post-fight press conference, McGregor insisted that he was uninterested in returning to the featherweight division for a unification bout with the newly crowned interim champion and former opponent, Jose Aldo.
The Irishman also highlighted that he didn’t agree with Dana White’s ultimatum that he would have to vacate the featherweight title if he did not defend the championship in his next bout.
Despite McGregor reestablishing himself as the number one pay-per-view draw for the promotion on the back of his epic encounter with Diaz last month, Kavanagh still believes it’s “a given” that the title will be taken from ‘The Notorious’ if he doesn’t return to his old stomping ground.
Yet, with two of his former defeated opponents likely to meet for the title, Kavanagh thinks McGregor will be seen as the champion, with or without the belt.
“I think if the next fight is for the lightweight strap, they will take the featherweight belt off Conor,” said Kavanagh.
“I think that’s a given. I guess, the little bit of conciliation Conor will take from that is that it will be two guys he has beaten fighting for the vacant featherweight title.
“It will probably be Holloway and Aldo–that’s two guys who Conor has beaten. One in thirteen seconds and one on one leg. It’s hard to say that on paper he isn’t the champion when he’s beaten the two guys who are fighting for his belt.”
Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez made a heartfelt public appeal for a showdown with McGregor this week in an interview with Ariel Helwani from his native Philadelphia.
There have been plenty of fans petitioning to see the lightweight title fight booked for the main event of the Madison Square Garden show on November 12.
Kavanagh agrees that the fight would be one to remember and said that McGregor’s final decision on his next opponent would be made very soon.
“It’s a great fight,” said Kavanagh. “I think it’s a pretty straightforward fight for Conor to be honest. Will he get it? I can tell you that we’re in talks. It will be decided whether they are going to go with that fight within days.”
Kavanagh insisted that the Alvarez fight was just one of the options McGregor had on the table at the moment. Although the featherweight champion contested his last bout at welterweight, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt revealed that the Dubliner is walking around lighter now than he was before he fought Jose Aldo back in December.
“I was speaking to Conor this morning and he told me that his weight now is considerably lighter than it was be eight weeks out from the Aldo fight. He’s actually walking around now a lot lighter than he would have previously for a featherweight fight.
“That’s because of a lot of things. The diet has gotten a lot stricter. George Lockhart is onboard 365 days a year and Conor is following his diet to a tee,” revealed Kavanagh.
“Since (UFC 202) he took last Sunday off, that’s all. He’s been training every day. He hasn’t taken a day off since then. He’s walking around very light now.
“Maybe making featherweight now would be easier than making featherweight for his last one. Although the next fight could be potentially for the lightweight belt, he is leaving himself in such a way that featherweight would not be out of the question.”
It’s just over nine weeks until the UFC 205 date, so it would seem as though all parties will have to come to a decision as to who McGregor’s next assignment will be very soon.
When the first show at Madison Square Garden became a possibility with New York legalizing MMA, then UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta was adamant that the promotion wanted to make a big splash at the iconic venue.
“It’s going to be a historic, monumental moment for this sport and our passionate fans when the Octagon finally arrives in New York,” he said.
Right now, as proven by the UFC 202 numbers, McGregor is the best way to get attention and the fact that Ireland has such historic links with the city will only make the top brass want him on the show more.
The promotion’s booking of Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and former welterweight champion ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler for the landmark event is a clear sign of intent in terms of the strength of the card they want to bring to MSG.
We’re likely to hear a lot more confirmed fights in the coming days given how close we are to the event, whether McGregor versus Alvarez will be one of them remains to be seen.
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