John Kavanagh: McGregor could be UFC’s first three weight champion


John Kavanagh has seen a lifetime of hard work paid off to some extent this year with four of his products currently active under the UFC banner. To add to that Aisling Daly is now competing on the latest season of UFC’s reality platform The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned and seems certain to get herself a place in the newly founded female straw weight division.

Kavanagh’s clean 4-0 winning streak in front of his hometown crowd at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs Brandao fortified his position as Europe’s leading MMA coach and gained him a massive amount of recognition both in Ireland and internationally in a sport that was barely known when he first pursued it. Furthermore, Kavanagh also got engaged to his long term girlfriend proving that his happiness is not just limited to his professional pursuits.

“I’ve had worse years,” Kavanagh laughed having just finished his breakfast by the pool of the presidential suite he is sharing with surging UFC featherweight Conor McGregor ahead of his bout with Dustin Poirier on September 27.

The homecoming of Irish MMA on July 19th put the sport into the consciousness of the Irish mainstream and although Kavanagh has been championed by some of the biggest names in the sport on the back of his team’s display on the night, he claimed that a compliment from his father made the biggest impression on him.

“I think the proudest memory of that night was the following day when my Dad turned to me and told me that it was the greatest night of his life and that he had never been so proud of me. If there was anything that struck a chord with me, that got me the hardest. It was the best feeling that I took from the event.

“Besides that, I know it was great but I still have in my mind that we’re warming up to get belts. That’s my ultimate goal, to have a number of world champions. So good stuff, we patted ourselves on the back and we were back in the gym on Monday working again.”

With one of his star students, Conor McGregor, heading into what many believe will be his toughest test to date against Dustin Poirier at the MGM Grand next weekend, Kavanagh commented on why he believes that McGregor will go on to be the greatest fighter of all time.

He explained: “It’s hard to put in words why I think he will be remembered as the greatest of all time. I do think that he will definitely be a two weight world champion, that’s a given, and I think with a certain set of circumstances he will be the first and only three weight division UFC champion. That would be at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight.

“It’s not hard for me to imagine that scenario. I think two people have already done it in two weight classes and even then they did in a time that was a little different – the skill set was a little bit lower.

“BJ Penn’s accomplishment was impressive at lightweight and welterweight though. There is an argument that he could’ve done it at featherweight had the division been around longer, but he is done now. I can see Conor doing it at three weight classes anyway.”


Internet forums are lighting up with debates as to who will take victory when McGregor and Poirier lock horns in the fight capital of the world. Many believe that the American will prove too much for the Irishman on the night whereas an equal amount see Poirier as an “ideal” opponent for the Dubliner. According to Kavanagh, every opponent is ideal for McGregor.

“I’m a big fan of MMA, if I’m not coaching it I’m watching it and if I’m not doing either I’m thinking about it. I’m a big fan of the guys in UFC, it’s the elite level. If you’re not in the UFC and you’re champion of whatever other promotion you are in, you’re still at the bottom of the UFC pile.

“That being said, everyone in the UFC is an ideal opponent for Conor. They really don’t have any idea what’s coming for them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a smothering wrestling style or dynamic striking or submission style. It will make more sense after September 27 what I’m saying, but everybody is an ideal opponent,” he prophesied.

When asked for a prediction for the much anticipated bout, the SBG head coach forecasted a “quick and clinical” win for his student.

“It’s a little bit difficult to call this one, but I can see it being pretty quick. There are so many factors that we don’t know that go on behind the scenes that make any fight hard to predict. However, I have had conversations with Conor and we’ve both come to the same conclusions of what’s going on in Dustin’s head. Conor is living rent free in a lot of young guys’ heads.

“We’ve even been predicting his training and I’d like to see how close we are to what he’s actually doing because I believe we’re getting it spot on. I think it will be a short and clinical contest and Conor will have his hand raised,” he said.

McGregor has been very vocal with his aspirations of one day being a UFC champion. He has gone on record to say he would take a fight with Aldo if number one contender Chad Mendes pulls out of his October 25 showdown with the Brazilian in Rio de Janeiro and Kavanagh claimed he would have no problem in making the trip to South America if the opportunity arises.

“It doesn’t matter where the fight would take place – Brazil, Donegal, Australia – as long as gravity acts in the same way it wouldn’t affect the outcome if Aldo met Conor. I can see why Aldo is such a problem for the guys he faces. I see what he does, both physically and mentally, and I have to say the same thing I said about Poirier – they are all ideal opponents for Conor.”

“Aldo is a fantastic fighter. He’s been an excellent champion and he’s a warrior. I don’t think he would hesitate for a moment in accepting any opponent,” said Kavanagh.


Ireland's leading MMA media outlet. Home of Severe MMA Podcast. Producers of 'Notorious,' 'The Fighting Irish' & other MMA docus


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