This weekend Khabib Nurmagomedov will face Tony Ferguson in a bout for the UFC interim lightweight title. It’s a fight between two of the most talented 155-pound men of the UFC, and a combination of two of the best streaks in MMA.
That being said, the nature of an ‘interim’ title means there is an asterisk.
Conor McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, is currently taking time away from the Octagon while his longtime girlfriend has their first child. He’s also attempting to close in on the much discussed Floyd Mayweather fight — although that contest would take place in a boxing ring.
The idea of the UFC’s biggest star facing boxing’s equivalent has, unsurprisingly, enthused many members of the general public. Others, conversely, have attempted to pour water on the idea, claiming that McGregor’s far too big an underdog for the Mayweather bout to make sense.
According to McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, it’s exactly that sort of talk that motivates the Irishmen to go for it.
“I would love the challenge of it, for Conor to test himself in that area,” Kavanagh said, speaking with Submission Radio. “I’ll be honest, right from the beginning I’ve been hearing ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’ … We’re kind of used to being told to what we can’t do, but we don’t pay too much attention to it, we just get on and make things happen.”
That being said, as a mixed martial arts coach, Kavanagh still has plenty of attention on the competition his star pupil will face back inside the Octagon. And, (even in spite of a recent Georges St-Pierre return), there are two names that stand out above the rest of the crowd.
“I’ve said it before, the Nate rematch interest me a lot because it’s one-one and how the styles match up,” Kavanagh said. “Almost on a par with that, not much difference, would be the winner of Khabib-Ferguson this weekend. I think Khabib does it, I think Khabib will be the winner, so I think Khabib will be the match-up out of that.”
Some fans have aired concerns that a Mayweather bout would pull McGregor away from the sport of mixed martial arts, or even that the no doubt mammoth pay-day he’d receive would inspire him to leave fighting altogether.
Kavanagh isn’t buying it.
“I find it hard to imagine not seeing [him back in MMA],” he said. “Even if and when the Mayweather fight was going to happen, and he got that out of the way. I know, like myself, I do believe his true love is free combat sports and there is no ‘free-er’ combat sport than mixed martial arts.”
“I can’t imagine him not fighting the winner of [Khabib vs. Ferguson]. Now we gotta see what happens with the Mayweather talks and all that, but yeah, I do believe that will happen.”