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Coach: Conor McGregor ‘hasn’t lost a beat’ since return from injury, looking ‘very, very strong’

Celebrity Sightings: Day 9 - The 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival Photo by Edward Berthelot/GC Images

Conor McGregor is inching closer to his UFC return.

The former two-division champion has finally returned to MMA training as he continues to rehabilitate the injuries he suffered in his July 2021 loss to Dustin Poirier — and McGregor’s longtime head coach, SBG Ireland founder John Kavanagh, told BBC Sport that he’s been impressed by the early returns he’s seen from McGregor’s latest comeback efforts.

“He’s healthy, happy, and it’s great to have him back,” Kavanagh said. “... The last few sessions in the gym here were MMA-orientated — he’s got the all-clear for that now.

“He did a great session [earlier this past week], we got some great rounds in. He hasn’t lost a beat and was looking great.”

McGregor, 34, hasn’t competed since suffering a gruesome broken leg in his rubber match with Poirier at UFC 264. It was the second of back-to-back losses to Poirier for “The Notorious,” and dropped McGregor to just 1-3 since capturing his second UFC title in 2016.

McGregor is expected to return in either late 2022 or early 2023 and has already been the subject of numerous high-profile callouts from fighters jockeying to be his next opponent, even including the UFC’s uncrowned lightweight king Charles Oliveira, who’s repeatedly made it clear that McGregor is his No. 1 choice to challenge him for the vacant UFC title.

While McGregor has yet to commit to a weight class for his impending return, Kavanagh noted that the extra bulk the former champion has packed on during his rehabilitation has already been felt by the Irishman’s training partners, however that bulk won’t prevent McGregor from dropping back down to 155 pounds if the right opportunity arises.

“Trust me, I got to have a bit of a wrestle with him last night and I felt it,” said Kavanagh. “When that silverback arm goes around your neck there’s a bit of an extra squeeze there, so, he’s very, very strong at the moment.

“But look, when we get to the stage of looking at weight classes and opponents there’s nobody more professional than Conor at making weight and it will all be done properly.”

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