Conor McGregor says he is retired but nobody really believes that. However, in the meantime, he sits on the sidelines looking on. We saw a magnificent lightweight clash between Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker at the UFC Apex. Meanwhile, Justin Gaethje fights Khabib Nurmagamedov for the 155 lb title.
All of this makes it easy to forget about the Irishman. He wanted to fight Gaethje earlier this year but then the current health crisis got in the way. When he wanted to return the UFC wasn’t prepared to book him because of the lack of live attendance.
However, John Kavanagh says that it was a missed opportunity. The SBG Ireland head coach explained that a fight between McGregor and Gaethje was very close. In a live Q&A session on Instagram, he explained that things just fell apart.
Kavanagh says that he wanted McGregor to fight Gaethje because it was a good style match-up for his student. ‘The Highlight’ comes forward and opponents can catch him. For all of his flaws as a human, there’s no doubt that ‘The Notorious’ is a cerebral striker.
“The Gaethje fight is probably the best fight I could imagine,” Kavanagh said. “Because he has a style that really matches well Conor. Gaethje likes to march forward, he sits down on his shots, throws heavy shots, doesn’t seem to care about getting hit. He likes coming forward. Conor’s always done very well as a counter fighter — although he does walk forward, he responds to people’s attacks very well.”
In truth, Gaethje has developed as a striker too. We saw how effective he was against Tony Ferguson. Kavanagh acknowledged that the American has a lot of confidence right now. He also thinks that Gaethje could beat Khabib. Kavanagh said:
“Gaethje has a lot of momentum behind him at the moment. He had that great win over Tony, and I think he’s on some huge win streak at the moment. He’s very confident, maybe the next champion if he beats Khabib, or if Khabib retires he’d be at the top of the list.
The Irishman says that the deal was very close but it just didn’t work out. Furthermore, he thinks that it is a shame because it would be a very exciting match-up. At the end of the day, money talks. McGregor took a hard stance because the UFC wouldn’t play ball. Kavanagh explained:
“For a bunch of reasons, I would’ve — I know it was close to being done. It’s kind of sad now that it didn’t happen,” he said. “We obviously had the coronavirus and how everything went with the world. I think we could have been getting ready for that fight any week now if things hadn’t happened the way they did, but here we are.”
Despite this, McGregor remains in the USADA testing pool. This suggests that he’s still ready to fight when the right amount of cash comes his way. Does anybody actually think he’s retired?