Conor McGregor completed his last heavy sparring session before his UFC return and was showered with praise from longtime coach John Kavanagh.

McGregor’s welterweightweight against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is only 17 days away and has put the finishing touches to his preparation with a New Year’s spar in Ireland.

It is fair to say that Kavanagh has been hit. “I can honestly say that this is the best I’ve ever seen and I wasn’t sure it was possible to do it six months ago,” he tweeted. “You are looking for a real surprise.”

McGregor has only fought once – a defeat against light champion Khabib Nurmagomedov – since November 2016.

Cerrone, one of the most active fighters in the history of the UFC, took the walk 11 times in that time frame.

The 36-year-old has lost his last two fights, against 155-pound contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, but has more wins and more goals than any fighter in UFC history.

If McGregor manages to get his career back on track with a win, his next move remains unclear.

Nurmagomedov meets Ferguson for the light championship in April, but that match-up has fallen so many times that it’s not out of the question to think that McGregor could be a late replacement for both men.

If the Russian and the American both arrive in the cage, McGregor could turn his attention to the 170-pound star Jorge Masvidal, although UFC president Dana White thinks he should wait and fight the Nurmagomedov-Ferguson winner.

“Conor gets pissed when I say (fighting Masvidal) is a bad idea. It’s like, “Do you think I can’t beat Masvidal?” White told ESPN.

“I’m not saying you can’t beat Masvidal, anyone can beat anyone on any given day, but why? Why go after that battle when you could just wait?

“This is why Conor McGregor is so intriguing and why so many fans love to see him fight. And you have to love the fact that a guy is willing to fight anyone. “

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