Conor McGregor is actively campaigning for a rematch against UFC 229 opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov, but if were denied a second shot at the UFC lightweight champion then he could contest a trilogy bout against Nate Diaz.
- Conor McGregor's coach says there is one opponent out there who will "bring the best out of him," after the Irish striker was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on Saturday.
- Coach John Kavanagh says a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz would be "a beautiful fight" as it is a "great personality match-up" and a "great skill clash."
- McGregor and Diaz have fought twice before. Diaz made McGregor tap in a two-round blowout at UFC 196, before McGregor sought his revenge with a decision win at UFC 202.
- It is unclear who McGregor will fight next, as he is desperate to challenge Nurmagomedov again.
- But one thing is for sure, McGregor will be back — and he will likely be back next summer.
- Read all of Business Insider's UFC 229 coverage here.
Conor McGregor wants a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov but there is an alternative opponent who would "bring the best out of him," according to his coach John Kavanagh.
McGregor was out-struck by Nurmagomedov, dropped in the second round, and eventually lost when the Russian wrestler submitted him with a tight neck crank in the fourth round of their wildly-entertaining UFC 229 brawl on Saturday.
Not everyone is convinced the fight, which was one-sided, warrants a follow-up. "The fight was very clear," UFC commentator Joe Rogan said at the time. "Khabib dominated the fight, won the fight by submission. There's no need for a rematch."
McGregor has alternative options and Kavanagh believes there is an opponent out there who is a "great personality match-up" and a "great skill clash." That opponent is McGregor's old rival, Nate Diaz.
McGregor and Diaz have fought twice already. McGregor lost in the second round of their first ruck when Diaz made him tap to a rear-naked choke at UFC 196 in March, 2016. But McGregor evened the score four months later when he won a five-round decision at UFC 202.
Speaking on "The MMA Show", a podcast on the "Joe Rogan Experience," Kavanagh said a trilogy fight "is so appealing."
'It's a beautiful fight'
Kavanagh, a second-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, said: "I'm a grappler at heart, but I know a jiu-jitsu tournament will put you to sleep. But anybody can see a punch hitting someone in the head, and them falling down — that's exciting.
"Him and Diaz is a great personality match-up, it's such a great skill clash. If I was to design someone who would bring the best out of Conor, who could hit back, take a big shot and put up with the trash talk. It's a beautiful fight. I'd love to see that rematch."
Though it is a fight that excites Kavanagh, it is clearly not McGregor's first choice as the 30-year-old wants Nurmagomedov again.
"Definitely the Khabib one, that's the fire," Kavanagh said.
It is unclear when McGregor will return to full competition. He was recently given a medical suspension, which means he will be unable to fight until early November, and won't be permitted to engage in contact training, including sparring, until the end of the month.
Kavanagh hoped for an event on March 16, one day before St Patrick's Day, at a venue like Madison Square Garden in New York City or the TD Garden in Boston. But he suggested a more realistic timeline would be next summer.
Regardless, McGregor is desperate to return to elite competition. After all, he recently posted a photograph on Instagram with one simple caption: "I'll be back."