Coach John Kavanagh is confident that Conor McGregor has returned to championship form. So much so, that if everything goes as planned, he could see the former dual-division champion jumping at an opportunity to fight again in February.
McGregor has been out of the cage for more than a year, having last fought in a losing effort to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. He gets back in the cage on Saturday opposite Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, as the two headline UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a welterweight showdown.
Kavanagh has been praising McGregor's return to fight form and his renewed focus throughout his training camp leading up to fight week.
In fact, he's so confident in McGregor's current form that he could see him not only fighting the planned three times in 2020, but perhaps even make a quick return to fight again just a month after the Cerrone bout.
McGregor has said that UFC 246 is just the start of his 2020 season in which he intends to fight at least three times. He's constantly been eyeballing a rematch with Nurmagomedov, but that isn't likely to happen right away unless Tony Ferguson drops out of his scheduled bout with Nurmagomedov in early April.
Asked when he'd like to see McGregor fight again after Cerrone, Kavanagh gave the surprising answer about McGregor being ready to fight again in February.
"Any time around April would be nice, but I think what's more important than that is what happens the week after the fight. He's said it (fighting three times in 2020), so now he has to do it, now we're back in the gym on Monday," Kavanagh said in an interview with MacLife. "So we're back in the gym on Monday. I have a feeling the fight is gonna go a certain way and I have a feeling that he'll have a certain mindset when it's over that if something was to come along in February, he'd jump in."
Is that something Kavanagh would really want to see though?
"If everything goes the way I visualize, yes."
Though there are several UFC events scheduled for February, there aren't many bouts that would warrant McGregor stepping in to save the show. One that stands out a bit is a lightweight showdown between Paul Felder and Dan Hooker in New Zealand, as the two fighters hold the No. 6 and No. 7 slots in the division. Outside of that, it's difficult to see a path for McGregor to return in February.
Then again, he's always said he'd fight whomever, whenever.
John Kavanagh's final thoughts on Conor McGregor's UFC 246 headliner
(Courtesy of TheMacLife)