McGregor has begun training ahead of a planned fight with Michael Chandler in late 2023 or early 2024, and he was filmed sparring with Irish UFC prospect Ian Garry in Dublin on Sunday.
While in his native Ireland, McGregor also took part in a jiu-jitsu class with his longtime coach, who ended the session by awarding the 35-year-old his black belt.
“It’s not normal to give out a belt during the no-gi class,” said Kavanagh, “but nothing about this man’s career or life has been normal. An incredible exponent of martial arts his whole life, he obviously excelled in the professional area. But for me, it’s his interest and his passion about it day to day, whether it’s working with the new guys or training with pros.
“It’s a huge pleasure for me to give [this to] a longtime student but also one of my best friends, Conor McGregor.”
An emotional McGregor then said: “I appreciate this, guys. Thank you, John, for so much over the years. It’s just great to be home, great to be around UFC talent and see all the talent here around the gym. I’m with SBG for life, and I appreciate this. It means the world to me, thank you so much.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, you know? It’s my life. To get it off John, it’s not even about... It’s deeper when you get a black belt off John. There’s not many black belts off Coach Kavanagh. It means the world.
“I’ve been here, what, 20 years? So, that’s how long it takes to get a black belt off that man!”
McGregor also re-posted a tweet that he first shared in November 2013, which read: “I just want two gold belts, a jiu-jitsu blackbelt, a hall of fame plaque and 25 million in the bank. Is that too much to ask? Gym time!!”
I just want two gold belts, a jiu-jitsu blackbelt, a hall of fame plaque and 25 million in the bank. Is that too much to ask? Gym time!!
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 26, 2013
McGregor would go on to become the first dual-weight champion in the UFC, after achieving the same status in Cage Warriors, and his net worth was estimated by Forbes to be $180 million in 2021. The Irishman is also a surefire UFC Hall of Famer.
He last fought in July 2021, however, suffering a broken leg in his second straight loss to Dustin Poirier, who knocked him out six months earlier.