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Conor McGregor coach John Kavanagh: Belt-stripping 'short-sighted,' Aldo's promotion 'ridiculous'

Conor McGregor has yet to comment on being stripped of the UFC featherweight title, but his coach is none too happy about the move.

Kavanagh told radio show Cork’s RedFM he is “very disappointed” in the way the promotion took the title away from McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) just two weeks after becoming its first two-division champ, pointing to a “very messy set of circumstances” as the catalyst for the decision.

“They lost a main event, and then they haphazardly threw together a new main event, and they felt they had to make this for a title in order for it to sell,” he said. “So they brought in another interim title that Jose Aldo already has, and bumped Jose Aldo up, which just seems ridiculous to me.

“Conor’s only 11 months since he won that title, and there’s been many, many examples of fighters waiting 15, 18 months before defending it. He’s 11 months, and they stripped him of it.”

McGregor’s own lightweight division has one good example. Anthony Pettis won the belt in August 2013 and didn’t defend it until December 2014 after several bout cancellations. In the welterweight class, which McGregor has twice visited, former champ Georges St-Pierre held on to the title for 19 months after a knee injury.

Kavanagh took the UFC to task for putting short-term business interests ahead of everything else.

“I thought it was very shortsighted by the UFC in how they went about doing it,” said the coach, who’s trained McGregor since he was 17.

With the UFC lightweight belt still around McGregor’s waist, Kavanagh said the champ is evaluating options for his next career step and will make an announcement soon.

The coach said he’d “relish” the chance to prepare McGregor, the No. 1 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, for No. 2 Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC), who’s repeatedly targeted “Notorious,” or No. 3 Tony Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC).

“They’re different style fighters, but I have no doubt in my mind that Conor will run through either one of them,” Kavanagh said. “He is, I believe, the best fighter on the planet. His skill is so high, his mental strength is so strong, that I don’t see anybody being able to survive with him in the octagon.”

When it comes to the square circle, however, that might be a different story. Kavanagh said fans shouldn’t dismiss a possible meeting with retired boxing champ Floyd Mayweather, despite many well-defined roadblocks to the fight.

“If the odds were good enough, I’d put a few quid on it for next year,” he said. “I’m not breaking any news saying that there’s conversations going back and forth for the last year or so. Is it getting any close? I don’t know, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me that it’s going to happen.”

Kavanagh even segued into the role of hype man for the superfight.

“(Mayweather is) 49-0,” he said. “I’m sure he wants that 50th fight. It’s a nice number. Right now, ask the average guy on the street, who do you want to see Mayweather fight, what fight’s going to get the most interest, and it would be a superfight with Conor. Certainly stranger things have happened in combat sports than a Mayweather-Conor fight. It’s one of the many options that are there for Conor, so let’s see how the next couple weeks go.”

McGregor doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to decide. On Monday evening, he tweeted a picture with his expecting girlfriend, Dee Devlin.

For more on UFC 206, check out the UFC Rumors section of MMAjunkie.

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