For Conor McGregor to get back to being at the top of the MMA world, his coach, John Kavanagh, believes he needs to find his love for the sport once more. And after a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov last year for the UFC lightweight title, Kavanagh feels "Notorious" is on the right track back to that position.
"I think what has come back around, it's the love of the sport," Kavanagh said in an interview with Ariel Helwani (thanks to MMA Fighting for the quotes). "He loves doing it, he loves training, he loves competing. And legacy. That he's remembered being one of the best, if not the best ever. So that's what has really come back to him since the beginning of the year and that's what I wanted to see.
"He's obviously a very well-known student of mine but he's also somewhat like a kid brother, so I wouldn't want to see him doing something just for the sake of doing it and maybe getting hurt or whatever because he's not fully there. Now he absolutely is. We're having a lot of deep conversations about technical sequences and training regimes and so on, it really reminds me of his rise and to see that again is exciting."
McGregor rose to the top after defeating both Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez to become a dual-division UFC champion. He later was stripped of both belts without ever losing either of them. McGregor ended a year-plus hiatus from the Octagon in 2018, falling via submission to Nurmagomedov.
Kavanagh also discussed the possibility of a rematch with the unbeaten Nurmagomedov, and the coach feels it would go very differently this time around. He added that a tune-up fight wouldn't be necessary for McGregor like it would others.
"there is absolute confidence that I have in him and he has for himself. So I don't think it's as important," he said. "It's a very unique person, a very unique character. Almost anybody else, I would say yeah. For Conor, no. Actually, recently watching the fight and I would be very confident in a rematch. I would be."