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Morning Report: John Kavanagh says Conor McGregor should fight Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson before Nate Diaz

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When Nate Diaz submitted McGregor at UFC 196, it made him a star. Then, when he lost to McGregor in their rematch at UFC 202 and it was the biggest pay-per-view event in UFC history, most people assumed a third fight between the two was inevitable. Instead, McGregor won the UFC lightweight title and then took a year off of MMA to move over to professional boxing. Now, it appears Diaz might have missed his chance.

Speaking recently with The Mac Life, McGregor’s longtime coach, John Kavanagh, admitted that a trilogy fight with Diaz was appealing after UFC 202, but that the fight has lost its luster over time since McGregor has continued to elevate himself while Diaz has been sitting on the sidelines.

“So definitely for the first six months I thought everybody would have saw the same as me,” said Kavanagh. “There’s just a beautiful relationship between Conor and Nate in terms of it’s just a great back and forth with them, outside the cage and inside the cage. It’s a lovely fight. His five round rematch is still one of my favorite fights. That being said, I dd assume that Nate would be as busy or busier than Conor.

“Conor’s had an MMA fight and a boxing fight since and we haven’t seen Nate since. So I started changing and you could see it amongst the fans who are - I’ve always said and I still believe - are the most important factor in all of this because they pay for the Pay-Per-Views, and that’s what they want to see. But you can see it was clearly becoming they wanted to see either Khabib or Tony in there rather than [Nate], probably for the same reason that we didn’t: Nate didn’t keep busy. So I don’t think it would be quite right for that to happen before the winner of [Khabib]-Tony, because Conor, [Khabib], and Tony have kept busy and Nate hasn’t.”

While McGregor has been away and Diaz has been in a self-imposed exile, the rest of the UFC’s talent stacked lightweight division has been carrying on, with Tony Ferguson winning an interim championship and Khabib Nurmagomedov remaining undefeated with obliterating top-ranked fighters. The two are set to face each other at UFC 223 in April for a lightweight title, though whether it will be Ferguson’s interim belt or the undisputed title is still undecided. Either way, the winner will ostensibly fight McGregor later on in the year and Kavanagh suggests that Diaz should take a fight in the meantime too, to set up an end-of-the-year showdown with McGregor of epic proportions.

“I think Nate should get one in in the meantime,” Kavanagh said. “Him vs. Woodley, I hear there are rumors of that or him against a good lightweight, and if the MMA gods smile, it would be a victory for him. Conor fights the winner of [Khabib-Tony] and then you’ve got this amazing superfight for New Year’s Eve.”


MUST-READ STORIES

MayMac2.John Kavanagh would “absolutely love” for Floyd Mayweather to face Conor McGregor in MMA.

125. UFC signs Invicta FC flyweight champion Jennifer Maia.

USADA. Ruslan Magomedov, Zubaira Tukhugov accept two-year sanctions for USADA violations.

Contracts. Rashad Evans says Michael Bisping’s ‘contract problems with the UFC’ led to London bout falling through.


VIDEO STEW

The MMA Beat.

And After the Beat.

Style experts grading UFC fighters is a brilliant idea.

Kavanagh vocalizing all of our greatest fears.

Sage interview.

Shane knows.

Paulie still trying.


LISTEN UP

Anik and Florian. Recapping UFC 221 and looking ahead to UFC Austin.

Bushido Talk. Looking back at UFC 221 and discussing a possible 2018 Jon Jones return.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Bellator is just more fun than the UFC.

Looks serious.

Bellator should just become one big openweight organization.

He’s king of the 148.5 pound division though.

Devin Powell is crushing this.

Chito backing T-Wood.

Not eligible for heavyweights to do though.

Good on you, Max.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Renato Moicano (11-1-1) vs. Calvin Kattar (18-2); UFC 223, April 7.

Alejandro Perez (19-6-1”) vs. Matthew Lopez (10-2); UFC on FOX 29, April 14.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

1996: At UFC 8, Ken Shamrock defended the UFC Superfight Championship by submitting Kimo Leopoldo with a kneebar. That evening, Don Frye won the “David vs. Goliath” eight-man tournament, defeating Gary Goodridge in the finals.

2013: At UFC o Fuel TV 7, Renan Barao successfully defended his UFC interim bantamweight title, submitting Michael McDonald with an arm-triangle choke in the fourth round.


FINAL THOUGHTS

And just like that, another fight weekend is here and this one’s a double dipper. Tonight the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix continues rolling along with its next quarterfinal bout and Sunday we’ve got UFC Austin which is filled with sneaky fun fights even if it feels lackluster.

I hope everyone enjoys the fights this weekend and see y’all on Monday.


EXIT POLL

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