John Kavanagh picks his top contender for both of Conor McGregor’s belts after ‘massive mismatch’ at UFC 205

Kavanagh believes that McGregor’s next fight should be a rematch.

John Kavanagh picks his top contender for both of Conor McGregor’s belts after ‘massive mismatch’ at UFC 205

John Kavanagh believes that Conor McGregor’s next fight should be a rematch, writes Stephen Barry.

McGregor’s long-time coach says the top contenders for McGregor’s featherweight and lightweight belts are fighters he has already defeated, Max Holloway and Nate Diaz.

His Diaz opinion is a particularly big call, after a week in which the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov and top contender Tony Ferguson clocked up notable wins.

“I think the second best 145-er is Max Holloway. And I think the second best 155-er is Nate Diaz,” said Kavanagh on the MMA Hour, while reiterating his preference to keep McGregor at the higher 155lb weight-class.

“I think Nate would beat either Tony or Khabib. He really turned a corner with the Michael Johnson fight. We saw a new version of him.

“He looked fantastic in both of Conor’s fights. Conor just bested him. That's just my small, unimportant opinion of who I think the two best guys are.

“I understand Khabib is the number one contender and it's probably going to be him, if that's how the company works.

“But for me, interest-wise, the Nate fight would interest me greater, because of that. I do think Nate would be quite a bit better than either of them.”

Kavanagh may not claim to have a big say in McGregor’s next move, but his pre-fight prediction of a second-round knockout in New York proved prophetic.

The fight panned out as he thought it would, supporting his belief that the match-up with dethroned champion Eddie Alvarez was a mismatch in terms of skills.

“Eddie seems like a great guy, a solid fighter, but if we're just looking at skillsets, I felt going in that this was a massive mismatch.

“That's nothing about him as a person, just skills-wise I really felt this would look worse than the (Marcus) Brimage fight… That style of fight, where he would be always too late, always getting hit, fall apart.

“I did think his toughness would take him into the second round, which it did. But skillset-wise, I just thought it was a massive mismatch and I will humbly offer the evidence of the fight to warrant that.”

Outside the octagon, Kavanagh could sense the panic setting in from the opposite corner in the opening exchanges between the fighters.

“I could hear their corner seemed to panic and were screaming all sort of things within the opening 15 or 20 seconds.

“It was so loud and they're only 30 feet across (the octagon). He seemed to be talking to them and it just looked like disarray.

“In my head I was thinking: 'This is going to go bad for him, fast'.

“It's another example of the difficulty of transferring what you might have done in the gym to this type of environment. It's something that no-one will understand until they face him, that even being in the corner against him can rattle people.

“Obviously his corner are excellent and experienced but they seemed to fall apart a little bit. His gameplan seemed to go out the window.”

More in this section

James O'Donoghue


GAA: Is there still a kick in Kerry's James O’Donoghue?

Following a litany of injuries, can O'Donoghue still play a significant role in Kerry’s resurrection this season – and if so, what sort of role, asks Tony Leen?


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.