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Morning Report: John Kavanagh will be ‘pushing very hard’ for Conor McGregor to be back in UFC, not boxing

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In 2016, Conor McGregor ascended to true superstar status, fighting a pair of bouts with Nate Diaz that caught the world’s imagination before winning his second title with a drubbing of Eddie Alvarez in the UFC’s return to Madison Square Garden. 2017 was no less bright of a year for McGregor who improbably rose to even greater fame off the back of a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather and the global media frenzy it provoked. But while McGregor’s Q-rating and bank account soared to greater heights, he didn’t take a single MMA fight over the course of the year, and as 2018 starts to take shape, the MMA world is wondering if McGregor will really come back to the cage.

Well, the signs seem good.

According to McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, who spoke with BBC Sport recently, “Notorious” is back to training regularly at the gym, getting back into the swing of things.

“I’m just happy to see him back, just regular training,” said Kavanagh. “He had a lot going on in his life. A lot of stuff outside of fighting was going on in his life and he seems to be getting the hang of all that. Now he’s back training almost every day now and I think 2018 will be another big year for us. Exactly what that is, I don’t know yet, but the plan is forming. Stay tuned.”

Of course, McGregor didn’t sit out 2017 purely in pursuit of the Mayweather fight. Early in the year, Dee Devlin gave birth to the couple’s first child and McGregor took the first part of the year off to enjoy family time. Then the Mayweather fight finally came to fruition and McGregor was tied up in that for the until the end of August, and he never found his way back to the UFC before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, with their champion showing no signs of defending his title, the UFC opted to create an interim belt, a title Tony Ferguson won in October. Since then, Ferguson has been calling for McGregor to defend his title in a unification bout or vacate it, a cry becoming more and more popular with fans as well. Kavanagh though says that the campaigning to strip McGregor of the belt is unfounded.

“Conor’s still the champion,” said Kavanagh. “He can says what he wants but I have his belt at home. He’s still the champion. He’s making the decision on what makes sense for the next move but it’s kind of early days yet. We’re just watching how that has developed while he’s been away. Let’s see what happens in 2018. I’m excited about it.”

Be that as it may, it’s hard to imagine the UFC would allow McGregor to remain lightweight champion if he continues to not defend his title against the No. 1 contender. After all, the UFC has stripped McGregor of a belt before, taking the featherweight title from him shortly after he won the lightweight belt. But losing the lightweight belt due to inactivity is an eventuality Kavanagh would rather avoid. Kavanagh says that as decisions about what McGregor should do next, he intends to “very hard” for McGregor to get back to MMA and leave the boxing behind.

“You want to know my opinion?” said Kavanagh. “I’ll be pushing very hard for MMA. The boxing was a nice detour from what we’ve done but mixed martial arts is my passion so if I have anything to do with it, he’ll be in the octagon this year.”

Let’s hope Kavanagh gets his wish.


MUST-READ STORIES

SOTY. Demetrious Johnson’s absurd arm-bar took home Submission of the Year honors.

UOTY. Rose Namajunas claimed Upset of the Year honors for her title winning effort.

BFOTY. Francis Ngannou ran away with Breakthrough Fighter of the Year honors.

Fight on. Anderson Silva plans to continue fighting, says his career is “not over yet.”

Easy $$$. Kevin Lee says a fight with Justin Gaethje is “easy money.”


VIDEO STEW

The best look back at 2017 you’ll find anywhere.

Free fight.

Bellator Countdown. This is pretty good.

A good look into Francis Ngannou and how he got to where he is.

Even more BJJ Scout on Khabib? We are blessed.


LISTEN UP

Show the Art. Breaking down the possible fight between Conor and Tony.

The MMA Circus. Discussing the year that was 2017 in MMA and giving 2018 predictions.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Anderson.

Quando olho esta foto, percebo o quanto Deus me fortalece sempre me dando luz na minha caminhada. Em uma longa viagem, lembranças fantásticas do tempo em que brincava nas ruas do bairro onde cresci em Curitiba. Tudo que passei, tudo que consegui construir com força de vontade, com determinação e muita honra. Tive o previlégio de colocar o brasão do meu time do coração, de uma certa forma, dar um título mundial pra ele e principalmente, pro meu povo. Só tenho a agradecer a todos vocês por tudo, digo de coração, amo vocês todos que sempre estão me dando forças. Beijo! Amo vocês de verdade, força e honra a todos, independente de time, cor, raça, religião e opção sexual, somos todos irmãos. Obrigado meu povo! Podem ter certeza que ainda não acabou. Meu amor e minha paixão pela luta estão aqui, firmes e fortes. A luta continua, vou parar quando DEUS achar que não dá mais. Então quem é meu fã, pode ter certeza, que logo estou de volta, pra alegria dos que torcem por mim e pra tristeza dos que não kkkkkk beijo . When I look at this photo, I realize how much God strengthens me by always giving me light in my walk. On a long trip, fantastic memories of the time I played in the streets of the neighborhood where I grew up in Curitiba. Everything I've been through, everything I've built with willpower, determination and great honor. I had the privilege of putting the coat of my heart team, in a way, to give a world title to him and especially to my people. I just have to thank you all for everything, I say from my heart, I love you all who are always giving me strength. Kiss! I really love you, strength and honor to all, regardless of team, color, race, religion and sexual choice, we are all brothers. Thank you, my people! You can be sure it's not over yet. My love and my passion for the fight are here, firm and strong. The fight continues, I will stop when GOD thinks I can not do it anymore. So who is my fan, can be sure, that soon I'm back, to the joy of those who cheer for me and to the sadness of those who don’t kkkkkk kiss

A post shared by Anderson "The Spider" Silva (@spiderandersonsilva) on

Joanna carrying the Olympic torch.

Michael Johnson doesn’t sound happy.

Not great odds.

The plight of being an elite fighter with almost no name recognition.

Jimmie beefing.

He coming.

At the UFC headquarters....

Moat fights gave us some awesome KOs.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Tim Means (27-9-1, 1 NC) vs. Sergio Moraes (12-3-1); UFC Belem, Feb. 3.

Marlon Vera (12-4-1) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-2, 1 NC); UFC Belem, Feb. 3.

Jose Torres (6-0) vs. Alberto Orellano (5-2); Titan FC 48, Feb. 16.

Rami Hamed (6-1) vs. Jose Caceres (13-7); Titan FC 48, Feb. 16.

Michel Batista (4-0) vs. Adam Bogatirov (5-0); Titan FC 48, Feb. 16.

Michael Lombardo (4-0) vs. Punahele Soriano (2-0); Titan FC 48, Feb. 16.

Adriano Martins (28-9) vs. Rafael Alves (14-9); Titan FC 48, Feb. 16.

Aspen Ladd (6-0) vs. Leslie Smith (10-7); UFC, April 21.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

1999: At UFC 18, Pat Miletich successfully defend his UFC welterweight title (then referred to as lightweight) with a unanimous decision over Jorge Patino. This event also saw the UFC debuts of future champions Evan Tanner and “El Guapo,” Bas Rutten, who stopped Tsuyoshi Kosaka to earn a shot at the vacant heavyweight title at UFC 20.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I hope everyone had a great weekend because just like that, the first UFC fight week of the year is upon us. Feels good to be back in the saddle. Alexander Lee will be taking over the Report tomorrow, but I’ll see y’all back on Wednesday. Until then, take it easy.


EXIT POLL

Poll

Does Conor McGregor box in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Yes, he does.
    (133 votes)
  • 58%
    No, he sticks to MMA.
    (1028 votes)
  • 34%
    No, he doesn’t fight at all.
    (608 votes)
1769 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

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