Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh says thought of Nate Diaz trilogy ‘gives me nightmares’

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·4-min read
Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh says thought of Nate Diaz trilogy ‘gives me nightmares’
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  • Nate Diaz
    Nate Diaz
    American mixed martial artist
  • Conor McGregor
    Conor McGregor
    Martial artist
  • Tony Ferguson
    American mixed martial artist

Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has reiterated that Nate Diaz is his preferred opponent for his fighter’s comeback contest – despite admitting that a third bout with the American “gives me nightmares”.

McGregor went 7-0 at the start of his UFC career as he stormed through the featherweight division to become champion, but the Irishman suffered the first defeat of his spell with the promotion when he encountered Diaz in March 2016.

Having knocked out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds in December 2015, McGregor was scheduled to take on Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt at UFC 196, but the Brazilian was unable to compete due to injury.

READ MORE: Is the time right to make McGregor vs Diaz 3?

Diaz stepped in and fought McGregor at welterweight, submitting ‘Notorious’ in the second round to the shock of many MMA fans. McGregor outpointed the Californian at the same weight five months later, before going on to beat then-lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez for the gold at 155lbs.

A trilogy bout with Diaz has often been discussed in the years since but has never materialised, though Kavanagh has repeatedly made clear his desire to see it come to fruition.

“I’ll be honest, the Nate Diaz trilogy is very, very tempting,” Kavanagh reiterated on Monday, speaking on The MMA Hour.

“It’s a fight that gives me nightmares. The man doesn’t stop coming forward, whether it’s three rounds or five rounds, but it’s an intriguing fight.

“So, that one is definitely very interesting.”

Kavanagh also mentioned Tony Ferguson as an opponent he would like to see McGregor face.

The former interim lightweight champion was previously signed to Paradigm Sports, the agency to which McGregor belongs and in which the Irishman owns shares.

Ferguson, 37, put together a 12-fight win streak between 2013 and 2019, but the American has lost his last three fights.

“Also the Tony Ferguson one,” Kavanagh said. “It never happened. It was talked about a lot, and Tony still has – I believe – a lot to offer the game.

“He’s a very unorthodox striker, grappler. I think the build-up would be fun for the fans.”

McGregor last fought in July, breaking his leg at the end of the first round of his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier.

Conor McGregor after breaking his leg against Dustin Poirier in July (Getty Images)
Conor McGregor after breaking his leg against Dustin Poirier in July (Getty Images)

McGregor, 33, knocked out Poirier at featherweight in their first meeting, in 2014, but was stopped by the American in the second round of their rematch this January.

Following the injury he sustained in the pair’s most recent clash, McGregor is still recovering and is not expected back in the Octagon until summer 2022 at the earliest.

The former dual-weight champion recently said he is due to be healthy to return to sparring in April, and he shared images on social media this week of his current 190lbs physique – well over the 156lbs lightweight limit.

Nevertheless, McGregor is expected to return at lightweight, and Kavanagah said: “Look, that division is killer.

“Your Dan Hooker’s in there, the Islam [Makhachev] fight would be amazing as well, for obvious reasons.

“And we have whoever is going to win this belt coming up this Saturday [when Charles Oliveira defends against Dustin Poirier]. So look, any of those names. I’m just excited to see Conor back healthy, training.

“I wondered what would happen after this injury. It’s a long road back to recovery. The boy, it’s not a secret, he’s got a couple of quid in the bank. He could obviously go off and live on an island and play on his yacht for the rest of his life.

“But I have not seen one per cent drop in his incredible drive and desire and passion and interest in the sport. I’ve said it to you many times, I’ve said it to everybody: If you can get rid of money problems, you really find out what it is you’re passionate about, because you’ll only do something you really enjoy. He’s still in the gym, all day, every day.

“He’s still talking about getting that belt again – all day, every day. What can you conclude from this? He loves fighting. He loves mixed martial arts. He loves competition. So, let’s get back healthy, let’s get back training, and let’s go on a run in ‘22.

“I’m sure there’s some people there with steam coming out of their ears that he’s coming back for that belt, but I’m sorry to upset you: He’s coming back there for that belt, so give me your best shot on Twitter.”

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