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John Kavanagh won’t interfere with Conor McGregor returning to boxing, but ‘I would of course love him just to do MMA’

As Conor McGregor prepares to kick off his 2021 with a main event fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, the former two-division champion definitely has lofty ambitions for the year ahead.

While the rematch against Poirier has all of his attention right now, McGregor has already talked about reclaiming the UFC lightweight title at some point in the near future while staying committed to the 155-pound division for the time being. Of course in an ideal world, McGregor would love the chance to take the title away from Khabib Nurmagomedov but the undefeated Russian retired this past October and there’s no clear indication that he will return.

On top of his aspirations in the UFC, McGregor has also touted a potential return to boxing for a fight against multi-weight class world champion Manny Pacquiao. Ever since losing by 10th round TKO in his lone boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, McGregor has been adamant about pursuing another fight with Pacquiao as the most popular choice for an opponent.

Considering McGregor managed to make the Mayweather fight happen, it’s impossible to ignore the reality that he might just crossover again for another high profile boxing match.

His head coach John Kavanagh would never try to stop McGregor from a lucrative payday or the opportunity to add a boxing championship to his resume. But admittedly, he’d prefer the Irish superstar stay focused on the sport where he’s already considered one of the best.

“Just between us, yes, I would of course love him just to do MMA,” Kavanagh said when speaking to reporters ahead of UFC 257. “I’m an MMA fanatic. I enjoy watching the odd boxing fight, but just the fact that I’m so involved in MMA, it seems so incomplete now. But I of course still have massive amount of admiration for them. I think they’re the toughest athletes in the world. Cause I think wrestling does something to you endurance wise, which is just sickening, anybody who’s done some hard wrestling rounds. It’s that while being punched in the face. It’s incredible what the guys do.

“That being said, I love MMA. I love Conor doing MMA. It’s just so much more interesting to me. So that’s my answer to that.”

In the weeks leading up to UFC 257, McGregor’s sole focus has been his MMA training to prepare for Poirier, and that obviously speaks to Kavanagh’s strengths as a coach.

He’s been with McGregor since the beginning as student and teacher have reached the highest peaks in the UFC together – with plans to conquer even more mountains in the coming years.

Ideally, Kavanagh would love to see McGregor really keep his full attention on MMA, because switching between two sports like that makes it even tougher to get ready for a fight.

“Right now is MMA and that was the focus and here we are,” Kavanagh said. “If there’s a boxing fight in the future, yeah, it does weigh on my mind a little bit that you’re going to be thinking how far after the boxing fight does MMA come back? How long will we be without grappling?

“Of course, there’s so many more aspects to MMA than boxing but who am I? I’m not going to be the one to tell him not to explore his different outlets and he wants to get that boxing title and so on.”

If McGregor ultimately chooses a return to boxing later this year, or any time in the future, Kavanagh knows that will serve as a challenge from a coaching standpoint. But he’s confident the proper measures will be taken in order to keep “The Notorious” battle ready for whichever sport has his attention.

“I suppose it just comes down to some planning and some preparation,” Kavanagh said. “And hopefully I can still be in his ear, maybe I get him for one day a week during a boxing training camp and we can do a little bit of grappling.

“But that’s just problem solving. Focusing on pros rather than cons. It’s another challenge to look forward to in the future.”

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