Though Conor McGregor's immediate future remains up in the air, one of his closest SBG teammates says he expects the Irishman to fight again — and sooner rather than later.
Gunnar Nelson, who was training in his native Iceland with SBG head coach John Kavanagh and McGregor at his Mjölnir gym in Reykjavík when McGregor was removed from UFC 200, thinks we could see McGregor on one of the subsequent cards.
"I think it kind of happened because he really wanted to focus on his training for this fight, and he felt like going over there [to the States] and doing all this media stuff was going to take away from his training," Nelson said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "And I think that was the reason why he kind of had enough. Like he says, he's done dancing like a monkey, and he felt like going over there was going to come down on his training. So he decided to retire, and he was retired.
"And then I think he kind of changed his mind and wanted to see if he could come back or make it through whatever was the deal. But I do believe he's going to come back and fight. When exactly I'm not sure, but maybe 201 or 202. I would definitely put my money on that he'll be back."
McGregor was removed from UFC 200 card when he was to have a rematch with Nate Diaz on July 9. The rift between the UFC and the sport's biggest active star became very public, with McGregor refusing to travel to the States for a UFC 200 promotional tour through Stockton, Las Vegas and New York.
Instead, the UFC held a press conference in New York last week with the new headliners, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, who will meet in a rematch to replace McGregor and Diaz.
Asked if he wanted to see McGregor come back as a welterweight, or if he'd rather see him at a lighter weight, Gunnar said his preferences tend towards the latter.
"It's really just up to him, whatever he wants to do," he said. "I think that 145 is...I know he can go back down and defend his title, no problem. But I just think he doesn't want to do that cut again. It's a nasty one, and I agree with him. I understand that. So I think maybe I would like to see him going to the 155 before going all the way up to the welterweight. But you know, he can do whatever he feels like."
As for whether or not the UFC offered to fly out McGregor's gym equipment to accommodate the impeding tour schedule, the Icelandic fighter half-giggled.
"I heard something about this, but I don't think this was anything that made any sense," he said. "I don't think they're going to move our gym anywhere and I don't really see the point even.
"I did hear something like that, but not through something serious. We run the gym, and I just saw it on some website."