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John Kavanagh would ‘absolutely support' Conor McGregor fighting for welterweight title after UFC 196

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor is already looking to make history next month when he challenges UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196. A win will give McGregor the notoriety of becoming the first UFC fighter to ever hold simultaneous titles in two weight divisions, but the Irishman has a knack for upping the stakes. And really, what better way to do that by throwing a third title into the mix?

McGregor's head coach, John Kavanagh, said in a column penned Thursday for Irish outlet The 42 that while no concrete plans are in place for McGregor after the dos Anjos fight, he wouldn't be shocked if the rumblings about McGregor moving up to welterweight to challenge for a third UFC belt end up coming to fruition. And if that is the course McGregor chooses, Kavanagh will support the UFC featherweight champion in his unprecedented endeavor.

"I've seen that rumours of Conor fighting Robbie Lawler for the 170lbs belt at UFC 200 on 9 July have been gathering momentum," Kavanagh wrote. "It's not something we have discussed specifically but after Conor wins the lightweight belt, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the next fight is for the welterweight belt.

"If that's what Conor wants to do, I'll absolutely support that move. I think that would be fantastic. We're already talking about making history in a few weeks, but can you imagine what it will be like if Conor is the champion in three weight classes by the summer?"

McGregor captured the featherweight title in December when he knocked out legendary champion Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds at UFC 194. Rather than waiting on the sidelines, McGregor instead jumped back into the fray, convincing the UFC to allow him to move up to lightweight and vie for dos Anjos' 155-pound title on March 5 at UFC 196.

McGregor has fought at lightweight before, most recently in 2012 when he knocked out Ivan Buchinger to win the Cage Warriors lightweight title. With his 5-foot-9 frame and 74-inch reach, McGregor is already one of the biggest featherweights on the UFC roster, and Kavanagh said there has been "a very noticeable strength difference" in McGregor now that his focus has shifted away from the grueling cut to 145 pounds.

The tentative plan for McGregor was once thought to be a fight against dos Anjos in March, followed by a featherweight title defense against No. 1 contender Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. That plan may still be in the cards, but with the welterweight division brimming with lucrative match-ups like Lawler or Stephen Thompson, and the allure of an unparalleled cross-divisional run calling, things may get more complicated than expected if McGregor can first defeat dos Anjos next month.

"He's obviously already the featherweight champion," Kavanagh wrote, "but we haven't thought about that recently as we've been totally focused on the lightweight belt. Once that's out of the way, we'll talk about what to do with the featherweight belt.

"As time goes on, it's harder to predict what will happen in the future. Conor has a sort of unusual body type in that even though he can make featherweight, he's still a very big lightweight. Given some time, as well as a bit of strength and conditioning work, he could also be a force at welterweight. This is an interesting time."