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Can Conor McGregor beat Tyron Woodley? John Kavanagh says it’s ‘doable’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It would not be John Kavanagh's first choice. Conor McGregor's coach is most excited about a third fight with Nate Diaz. But Tyron Woodley? The UFC welterweight champion? Kavanagh doesn't find that to be all that outrageous.

The SBG Ireland head coach said as much to Ariel Helwani on a recent episode of The MMA Hour. Kavanagh doesn't think Woodley would have an easy time with McGregor, as many critics have theorized. Hardly.

"I don't see why not," Kavanagh said. "I don't know. Maybe it won't happen. We've got so many irons in the fire at this stage. But I don't see what other people are saying, ‘There's no way Conor can touch this guy.' There is. No one is perfect. There's openings there. Of course, he's a bigger man, he's got more power and you've gotta be super careful. But Conor trains with big guys like this. I see him do amazing things in the gym all the time."

Woodley would be bigger. He cuts from more than 200 pounds to reach his welterweight title limit of 170 pounds. Kavanagh noted, though, that Woodley is not much taller than McGregor and McGregor might even have a reach advantage. Both of their reaches are listed around 74 inches.

McGregor, 28, is the UFC featherweight champion and now the lightweight titleholder, too, after throttling Eddie Alvarez via second-round TKO at UFC 205 earlier this month in New York. The brash Irishman is the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in two different weight classes at the same time.

A title fight with Woodley? McGregor going for a third belt? Kavanagh chuckled at that idea.

"I'm sure the haters would love that," he said.

And yet, the coach doesn't think it would be that out of the question. The two had a tense moment at the official weigh-ins Nov. 11 inside the Affinia Manhattan. They both ended up at the rehydration table and had something of a staredown. Later that day, at the television weigh-ins, McGregor shouted and cursed at Woodley.

If he was trying to pick a fight, he might have one. Woodley has said he would be down to sign a contract to fight McGregor straight away.

McGregor has fought at 170 pounds twice this year, both against Nate Diaz. He lost the first matchup by second-round submission, but avenged the defeat by beating Diaz via majority decision at UFC 202 in August.

Woodley would present a whole new set of problems for "The Notorious." But not insurmountable ones, said Kavanagh.

"He's not enormous," the coach said. "He's not some Goliath man. He's a little bit bigger. Conor would have reach on him, he would have technique on him in the striking, for sure. He'd have to of course deal with that power. ... I certainly don't in my head go, ‘Oh my God, no. We couldn't possibly beat him.' It's a doable fight."