Conor McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that negotiations are still “ongoing” for the UFC star’s return, while adding McGregor’s competitive spark has returned in recent sessions. It’s no secret that the UFC would like to book a lightweight title fight between undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) and McGregor (21-3), who hasn’t fought in MMA since he became a two-weight champion in November 2016. McGregor and his agent, Audie Attar, are “working on” that potential matchup and expressed his hope that it would come together.

“I really have seen the spark back lately,” Kavanagh said. “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, 29, is currently facing legal issues in New York, stemming from an incident in April when he attacked a UFC bus in Brooklyn. The Dublin native is in the process of negotiating a plea deal with the district attorney. His next court date is scheduled for July 26. Kavanagh, who has known McGregor for more than a decade, said he is supportive of McGregor in and out of competition. “It is what it is. I don’t really have a comment on that,” Kavanagh said. “Conor is a man. He’s his own person. He’s very busy with what he’s doing outside the gym. I’m super busy with what I’m doing outside and inside the gym.
“I love him to bits. He’s been my kid brother for over 10 years. I am behind him 100 percent. Is he perfect? No. Are you? No. Am I? No. But I know he’s a good person. I’ve seen all the good stuff he’s done. He’s incredibly loyal. He’s a great teammate. What can I say? I support him.”