McGregor ‘working on’ matchup with Nurmagomedov, says coach

Conor McGregor's long-awaited return to UFC might be just around the corner.

McGregor's head coach, John Kavanagh, confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that talks between the fighter and UFC are “ongoing” and that McGregor and his agent are “working on” a potential matchup with Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title. Rumors of a bout between the two have surfaced this week following a cryptic social media post from Nurmagomedov that included the caption “smash him #soon.”

McGregor (21-3) last fought in UFC in November 2016, claiming the lightweight title with a knockout victory over Eddie Alvarez. That belt has since been stripped from McGregor due to inactivity as he took time off when his first child was born and then to train for his fight against Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match last August.

Nurmagomedov (26-0) claimed the lightweight title for himself with a win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in April.

“I really have seen the spark back lately,” Kavanagh told ESPN of McGregor. “I think that was directed at other areas of his life for a while, building up his business world — which is completely justified. We all know the hard luck stories of fighters retiring broke. They get pats on the back and they're forgotten.

“I supported [McGregor focusing on other business] and I'm fully behind it, but I do see the spark back. I do see him very hungry, coming down to regular jiu-jitsu class and throwing a gi on. Strength and conditioning. There's a real fire back.”

McGregor is currently involved in ongoing legal issues following his rampage at UFC 223's media day. The 29-year-old was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief after attacking a charter bus carrying UFC fighters, including Nurmagomedov, at Barclays Center in New York, throwing a moving dolly through a window and injuring other fighters.

McGregor appeared in court in Brooklyn on June 14 and is in plea negotiations with regard to the charges. His next court date is July 26.