John Kavanagh: “I like Justin Gaethje at 170 next.”

John Kavanagh joined Ariel Helwani once more on the Helwani Show this Monday. Last week he made a prediction on the same show of ‘a beautiful destruction’.

“Picture Perfect”, an upbeat Kavanagh spoke about that prediction and the fight itself.

“That’s pretty much what I saw. Yeah, I could not be happier. Christmas was postponed this year. Everybody kept their head down, everybody kept working hard. For it to pay off and to get a good result like that is very rewarding.”

“The thing about ring rust, as they call it. I’m not too worried about that with Conor in any area. But if you have not competed in a long time, the desire for engagement, the desire for the first contact can sometimes be a little overwhelming. I think that’s what happened. Even on the walk to the cage he[Conor] started to run to the cage. You know that’s somebody that’s gonna be enthusiastic for the first contact.”

“The most impressive thing I thought about the fight was that he changed from throwing a punch, to sprawling in to defend the takedown. That was something else to see. It reminded me of Frank Shamrock back in the day getting in under Igor for the big slam and finish. The level of athleticism required for that was very very impressive.”

McGregor surprised many with his use of the shoulder on Saturday night but the head coach at SBG Headquarters wasn’t taken back in the slightest.

“That’s been going on for the last year or so. Gunni[Nelson] throws them too. It’s the first time ive seen them to that level of effectiveness. They seem to cause a lot of damage. Obviously in sparring or in the gym you are not throwing shots with as much force to do that amount of damage. When they separated and I saw the amount of damage they [McGregor’s shoulders] did, I was pleased.”

“I wouldn’t have been surprised for it [the fight] to go late because Donald has shown in the past the ability to absorb a lot of punishment and drag fights into later rounds. I did say repeatedly that this was going to be the best Conor McGregor of all time but I didn’t know it was going to be that good. I didn’t know it was going to be this good a version of him. He just really seems to have reached a different level of athleticism now that he has ever had in his career. He always had an incredible level of fight IQ and now that seems to be married to an Olympic level of athleticism. That’s somewhat terrifying and fantastic at the same time.”  

Much has been said in the aftermath of McGregor’s win at UFC 246. All the talk leads down to the one question everybody wants to know, Who’s next, and when? While Kavanagh could not shed light on that question, he did comment on when he thought McGregor would make the walk again. When asked if it would be before the summer, he responded.

“I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t going to compete before the summer. There was talk of March or April so he’ll definitely compete before the summer. What I think would make sense is that we get ready, we prepare for the April fight[Khabib/Tony]. If one of those guys is unfortunate enough to not be able to make the walk, that we are ready to go. If the guys make it, we schedule one[another fight] within a few weeks of that April fight. Then you are kind of on the same timeline for those guys for a fight with either one a couple of months after that.”

Kavanagh gave his thoughts on who he’d like to see “The Notorious’ fight next if he was not needed to fill in for the Khabib/Ferguson title fight. 

“Justin Gaethje at 170, that would be my personal preference. He is another lightweight, neither of them have to cut weight. The vision is getting that 155 pound title back so it’s a step closer to that. If you are just asking for my humble opinion and my desire, that would be it.”

“We’re moving forward, we are putting our energy and our focus on ourselves. We have always had great results when there has been no opponant, when it has been there all the same’. That’s what I hope to continue and not to focus on what other people are doing and[not focusing] what other people are trying to goad a reaction or other people trying to distract us. We are just working away in the gym, the team is even tighter now than it ever has been. We have a really good thing going now with the boxing lads[Crumlin Boxing Club] back on board. I feel like we are in a special time so that’s going to be the focus.”

Hear what Kavanagh had to say on a host of other topics with Ariel Helwani on the video below. John speaks more about if training has restarted, the systems in place for future training camps,Tony Robbins’ involvement and influence on McGregor’s camp and future endeavors in 2020 and the importance of safe training methods. 

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.