CONOR MCGREGOR is in "negotiations" over a blockbuster return to the octagon – with a summer showdown on tap.
The UFC's poster boy hasn't set foot inside the cage since breaking his leg in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier 18 months ago.
McGregor, 34, has undergone a painstaking rehab to get himself back fighting fit and is now in talks with the UFC brass over a big-money return.
When asked about the Irishman fighting again this year, head coach John Kavanagh told MMA Fighting: “I’d be willing to bet my house on it.
"I was actually just chatting with him yesterday or the day before and then [his manager] Audie [Attar] was in town.
“Yeah, I think there’s some interesting negotiations going along now.
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"I absolutely can’t say anything beyond that, but I’m very, very confident that we’ll see Conor back in the octagon this year.”
Former two-division champion McGregor has a multitude of big-money match-ups available for his eagerly-anticipated comeback fight.
But Kavanagh doesn't want his countryman – who has undergone a huge body transformation during his hiatus – to take a fight that won't get his competitive juices flowing.
The SBG Ireland head coach said: “You’ve got the great Nate Diaz is obviously in there.
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“Justin Gaethje would be a very interesting matchup, somebody he hasn’t fought before.
"The [Dustin] Poirier fight, we’ve done that so many times at this stage and it’s just a weird one.
"Michael Chandler, a great fighter, a great athlete.
"They’re all brilliant. They’re all going to bring something different to the contest.
“What I would be looking for would be the one name that gets Conor moving.
"Gets him off his stool, gets him moving around and gets him excited.
"Some of the names I’ve heard him mention it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’d fight him.'
"But if I see that level of lack of interest, I’d be nervous that won’t get him through 12 weeks of being in a very tough environment where if it’s a name that is exciting then training is fun and training is easy.”
McGregor must first re-enrol in the United States Anti-Doping Agency's testing pool for a minimum of six months before competing.
But the Dubliner is seemingly eyeing an exemption to the requirement to make a swift return to the octagon.
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Last November, he said: “I’m clear for testing in February.
"I will complete my two tests per USADA & we are booking a fight.”
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