There was talk about a potential bout between Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor for a while, but things didn’t pan out.
Gaethje instead stepped up on short notice to beat Tony Ferguson, winning the interim lightweight belt, upping his profile further and setting up a future title unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor on the other hand, has announced yet another retirement, and says it stems from issues with the UFC during negotiations.
McGregor’s coach feels that it was a lost opportunity, and wishes it pushed through. Considering both the stylistic match up and the potential upside from a victory, John Kavanagh said the matchup with Gaethje is the best possible bout for the former two-division champion.
“The Gaethje fight is probably the best fight I could imagine,” Kavanagh said on a recent social media Q&A. “Because he has a style that really matches well Conor. Gaethje likes to march forward, he sits down on his shots, throws heavy shots, doesn’t seem to care about getting hit. He likes coming forward. Conor’s always done very well as a counter fighter — although he does walk forward, he responds to people’s attacks very well.
“Gaethje has a lot of momentum behind him at the moment. He had that great win over Tony, and I think he’s on some huge win streak at the moment. He’s very confident, maybe the next champion if he beats Khabib, or if Khabib retires he’d be at the top of the list.
“For a bunch of reasons, I would’ve — I know it was close to being done. It’s kind of sad now that it didn’t happen,” he said. “We obviously had the coronavirus and how everything went with the world. I think we could have been getting ready for that fight any week now if things hadn’t happened the way they did, but here we are.”
While the earlier announcement seemed more like a negotiation ploy, Dana White has gone on record to say that as far as he’s concerned, “Conor Mcgregor is retired”