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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 9 March 2021

Conor McGregor 'harassing everybody' about Dustin Poirier trilogy, says coach

John Kavanagh calls on fans to 'pester' UFC about third fight in case the Irishman switches to boxing

Conor McGregor is already “harassing everybody” for a trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier after his defeat to the American in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The former two-division champion, 32, suffered a devastating second-round TKO in the lightweight headline event at UFC 257 at Etihad Arena – the first time in his professional mixed martial arts career that he had been knocked out. McGregor's record now stands at 22-5.

The Irishman had prevailed in the pair’s first encounter, which took place at featherweight in 2014, and said immediately after Sunday’s disappointment that he wanted a chance to resume the rivalry with a third fight. He did also say a trilogy clash with Nate Diaz – that head-to-head stands at one apiece also – appealed.

However, speaking to ESPN on Monday, McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, said the former featherweight and lightweight champion was keen to run it back with Poirier as soon as possible.

“He’s already harassing everybody to get the rematch, so we would love to rematch,” Kavanagh said. “I don’t think Dustin is against that. If we can get the rematch before summer, that would be amazing.

“If it’s not to be, then I guess I don’t really know. Maybe he drifts off into the boxing. So if the MMA community could help me out here, get behind me, and pester the UFC to give him another fight sooner rather than later, so I don’t lose him to boxing for six months, I would appreciate it.”

McGregor has been in talks for some time regarding a second foray into boxing - in 2017, he lost to the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr in a hugely lucrative crossover bout - and said on Sunday that a fight with Manny Pacquiao had been “as good as done”. McGregor reiterated that his MMA career was always his focus, but that he remained “open” to all possibilities.

Keen to keep his star pupil competing in the UFC, Kavanagh said McGregor did not simply want another shot at Poirier, but the lightweight belt, too. Currently, Khabib Nurmagomedov holds the title, but he retired in October.

UFC president Dana White had been consistent in his belief that he could tempt the undefeated Dagestani back for one more bout – it would take his pro record to 30-0 - but conceded after UFC 257 on Sunday that a comeback was unlikely.

Kavanagh sees McGregor-Poirier as an obvious tussle for what seems soon to be the vacant lightweight crown, with McGregor eager to avenge a painful loss that left him nursing a badly injured left.

“That’s the big drive,” the SBG Ireland head coach said. “It’s 1-1, they’re right up there in the rankings [and] they’re very popular fighters.

“I think the two of them are a beautiful match-up. Stylistically, it’s beautiful to watch. I’d love to see lots and lots of rounds between the two of them.

“Dustin is obviously riding high with confidence now with more experience and more weight. He took some of those shots. I’m sure his confidence is super high at the moment.

“We have to fix that technique with the leg and a couple of other things, as well, but Dustin versus Conor 3 for the belt in maybe May, that would be amazing.”

One stumbling block could be when McGregor is allowed to return. Reports on Monday stated that he had been handed a 180-day medical suspension as a result of a potential right tibia/fibula injury. McGregor would be allowed to return sooner, however, should a doctor clear him.

Yet Kavanagh told ESPN that the leg was not as bad as some feared, and that McGregor should be able to return to full training - apparently, he did an upper body workout on Monday - in seven-10 days.

Published: January 26, 2021 12:50 PM

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