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Coach John Kavanagh doubts Conor McGregor defends UFC title before end of year

Urgent text messages aside, John Kavanagh doesn’t expect to hear from Conor McGregor any time soon with the Irish champ in Ibiza, Spain, for a wedding.

After the whirlwind of attention that concluded with the potentially record-breaking “Money Fight” against Floyd Mayweather, the famed coach said it’s time to “switch off” and put off future plans.

In other words, Kavanagh doesn’t see McGregor fighting again soon.

“It’s probably a little late in the day to realistically expect another fight before the end of the year, because even after this hiatus is over, a lot goes into the planning and execution of a training camp at our level,” Kavanagh wrote in a guest column for Irish website The42.ie. “I find it hard to envisage another fight in 2017.”

If Kavanagh is having a hard time seeing one, others aren’t.

UFC President Dana White has expressed confidence McGregor will defend his lightweight title by the end of the year. He’s also said McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing) could retire after the receipts get counted for his 10th round loss to Mayweather (50-0 boxing) on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena. The event is trending to break the all-time record for pay-per-view buys, according to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, so there’s potentially 100 million reasons McGregor might not come back.

Kavanagh isn’t floating that scenario – at least for now. It’s a question of when McGregor comes back, and not if. And when they are ready to gear up for training camp, the choice of opponent is already set in his mind.

“I’ve said for a long time that the Nate Diaz trilogy fight at lightweight is what I’d personally like to see next,” he wrote. “That still needs to be put to bed.”

Diaz (19-11 MMA,14-9 UFC) undoubtedly agrees. The ambassador of Stockton, Calif., got back on the offensive Tuesday with a scathing review of McGregor’s performance against Mayweather, his brother-in-arms after a some chummy telephone calls. Other opponents, like Tony Ferguson, don’t motivate Diaz to sign on the dotted line unless he gets his own red panty night.

On that, Diaz and Kavanagh can agree. The coach dismissed interim title challengers Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) – who are scheduled to headline UFC 216 – as desirable opponents.

“To be completely honest, I didn’t actually know who Kevin was until very recently,” Kavanagh wrote. “Tony is a solid fighter, but he doesn’t have the kind of appeal that would get your blood racing, particularly in the context of coming from the excitement of the Nate Diaz rematch, the historical significance of beating Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden, and the novelty of facing the greatest boxer of his generation.”

So there’s Kavanagh’s two cents. He cautions his opinion on Diaz and a return, which is shared by McGregor’s manager, is just that – subject to change on short notice.

“Knowing Conor, I could get a text message tonight telling me otherwise,” he wrote. “He’s difficult to predict, which is one of the many reasons why he’s so fascinating.”

McGregor, at the moment, is busy enjoying the spoils of war. Even if they weren’t the spoils of the winning kind, they certainly leave him more options for the future.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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