No matter which way the wind blows when Conor McGregor fights next, it will have been at least the better part of a year before we've seen him compete. He hasn't fought since taking the UFC lightweight championship from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November.
McGregor is hell bent on a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, but even if that happens, it isn't likely to happen before September. If it does happen, there's a good chance we won't seem him in the Octagon in 2017.
If the boxing match with Mayweather doesn't happen, however, McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, thinks that fight fans will see the brash Irishman put his UFC lightweight title on the line instead.
“What I see happening this year is the Mayweather fight, maybe the end of the summer or something like that,” Kavanagh told news.com.au, while on a book tour in Australia.
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Although McGregor is focused specifically on boxing at the moment, even if the Mayweather blockbuster falls through, Kavanagh said that he thinks the timeline holds true for McGregor to fight MMA.
“Let’s say Mayweather doesn’t want to do it, for whatever reason. Then I could see us fighting in MMA by the end of the summer, (for) the lightweight belt.”
McGregor has a proclivity for the finer things in life that massive amounts of money afford him, but despite his passion for the almighty dollar, Kavanagh insists he has a deeper passion for the challenges that fighting affords him. While Mayweather would be a blockbuster payday, it's not the check itself that drives McGregor, it's the challenge of the fight that makes that check possible.
Whether that fight comes in the form of a boxing match or mixed martial arts, McGregor's coach sounds as if his charge isn't going to wait much longer than the end of summer for the next challenge to come his way.
“One thing you’ve got to understand about Conor — and this might rattle your bones — is his motivation is not money when it comes to fighting. Right now, even with his ridiculous spending habits, he wouldn’t be able to spend his money by the time he retired. It’s not money that’s getting him up in the morning. It’s the competition,” said Kavanagh.
“It’s facing someone he genuinely feels is a threat. Like when we lost to Nate (Diaz), he could’ve gone straight down to lightweight and fought (Eddie) Alvarez, who turned out to be a pretty straightforward opponent. But that wasn’t his interest. His interest was ‘I’ve got to beat this guy, this guy’s beaten me’. That’s a real challenge.
“I don’t know what name out there in the lightweight division is that guy. I would have loved to see Khabib (Nurmagomedov) and Tony (Ferguson) have a great fight, the winner win definitively and get on the mic and call out Conor. And I know that would get him riled up. That didn’t happen.”
Though talks are ongoing, we still don't have a clear picture if Mayweather or MMA is next, but it appears that we will see McGregor return to competition sometime this year. He is currently on paternity leave, anticipating the birth of his first child.