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John Kavanagh: Conor McGregor fighting again in 2017 seems unlikely

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Whether it’s boxing or MMA, don’t expect Conor McGregor to be returning to competition this year.

That is according to his longtime head coach John Kavanagh, who wrote as much Wednesday in his regular column for Ireland’s the42.ie. It is already September, McGregor is vacationing in Ibiza with friends and family and Kavanagh is in Florida with his fiancée.

Another bout, with three months left in 2017, doesn’t seem very likely at this point, Kavanagh wrote. The UFC was hoping to have McGregor, its lightweight champion and biggest star, back for their annual, big year-end card in Las Vegas. This year it falls on Dec. 30.

“It’s probably a little late in the day to realistically expect another fight before the end of the year, because even after this hiatus is over, a lot goes into the planning and execution of a training camp at our level,” Kavanagh wrote. “I find it hard to envisage another fight in 2017.”

That said, Kavanagh is not completely ruling it out, because of who McGregor is.

“Then again, knowing Conor, I could get a text message tonight telling me otherwise,” the coach wrote. “He’s difficult to predict, which is one of the many reasons why he’s so fascinating.”

Kavanagh wrote in the column that he is not sure if McGregor will box again — that decision has yet to be made. If it were his choice, the coach wrote, he’d book McGregor into the big trilogy fight with Nate Diaz next, because the rivalry “still needs to be put to bed.” Kavanagh wrote the winner of the UFC 216 interim title fight between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee would not necessarily interest him.

“Even though Conor is the champion, I know there’s an interim lightweight title fight coming up between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee,” Kavanagh wrote. “To be completely honest, I didn’t actually know who Kevin was until very recently.

“Tony is a solid fighter but he doesn’t have the kind of appeal that would get your blood racing, particularly in the context of coming from the excitement of the Nate Diaz rematch, the historical significance of beating Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden, and the novelty of facing the greatest boxer of his generation.”

Kavanagh made sure to add that no decision has been made in that regard just yet. These are just his personal feelings.

“This is all accompanied by the caveat that it’s merely the opinion of John Kavanagh, but I’m sure people will be able to relate to my perspective on the situation,” he said. “In the meantime, we’re just going to switch off, let our minds settle and we’ll make a decision on the next step when the time is right.”

McGregor fell to Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 by TKO in the 10th round. It was a better showing that many expected against one of the best boxers of all time, considering McGregor came in 0-0 as a pro boxer. Kavanagh praised McGregor for winning rounds against Mayweather and said they have learned something about the kind of pace that needs to be kept in 12-round boxing matches.

But make no mistake, Kavanagh wrote, McGregor entered T-Mobile Arena with the objective to beat Mayweather. So this was not necessarily a moral victory.

“In summary, the whole thing was a great experience,” Kavanagh said. “From the training to seeing how a boxing event is run on the night, I enjoyed it all. I look forward to telling my grandchildren about it when I’m an old man. Having said that, we didn’t go there just to participate, we went there to win, so in that sense it was hugely disappointing.”