The UFC has been a mess for a while now. Not only for me, it’s been happening way before that. It embarrassed featherweight and now embarrasses lightweight. Khabib Nurmagomedov signed two contracts to fight for the title and still hasn’t. We also have Demian Maia waiting at welterweight and Ronaldo Jacare [Souza] is waiting for even longer than that. It’s cool for me, I was a dominant champion for a long time, but what about Jacare’s situation? He’s always winning and doesn’t get his title shot. They tell him he’ll fight for the title and he never does. And it seems he never will. It’s a mess…I knew I would be the champion and he knows what happened to me in that fight will never happen again. It was known I would be champion again so I don’t have a problem with the way it happened. I’ve always said that having the belt around my waist is all that matters. No matter what, I’m the champion. I don’t care about what his coach says. Who is his coach anyway? I don’t know who he is. Or him. They’re all pieces of shit.
Coach Kavanagh says McGregor was holding his hands behind his back during his UFC 205 fight with Alvarez due to an injury. He says McGregor’s right index knuckle was hurt during his UFC 202 fight with Nate Diaz, and that was his way of protecting it in training, and also has the added advantage of fooling his opponent into trying to hit his head.
He found that if he actually held his right hand behind his back, it kind of reminded him not to throw it as much. That’s why he started reaching back and actually grabbing his hand. It was almost like a mental note: take care of the right hand…If you put your hands down, an untrained person will try to swing at your head. It’s a base instinct — I want to punch the guy in the head. If you have a very high level of striking, boxing like Conor does, you understand rules like that. I don’t think others are kind of catching up to that level of skill.
Coach Kavanagh confirms McGregor and Mayweather are in talks for a potential boxing fight in 2017.
If the odds were good enough, I’d put a few quid on it for next year. I’m not breaking any news saying that there’s conversations going back and forth for the last year or so. Is it getting any close? I don’t know, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me that it’s going to happen. He’s 49-0. I’m sure he wants that 50th fight. It’s a nice number. Right now, ask the average guy on the street, who do you want to see Mayweather fight, what fight’s going to get the most interest, and it would be a superfight with Conor. Certainly stranger things have happened in combat sports than a Mayweather-Conor fight. I wouldn’t be surprised by it, so who knows? It’s one of the many options that are there for Conor, so let’s see how the next couple of weeks go.
Kavanagh says the way McGregor’s belt was taken from him was badly handled.
For me personally, I was very disappointed by the way [the UFC] went about doing it. It was a very messy set of circumstances which led to doing it. They lost a main event and then they haphazardly threw together a new main event. They felt they had to make this for a title in order for it to sell so they brought in another interim title that Jose Aldo already has and then bumped Jose Aldo up to the current undisputed champion, which just seems ridiculous to me. Conor has only been 11 months since he won that title. There have been many, many examples of fighters waiting 15 months, 18 months before defending it. He’s 11 months and they stripped him of it. I thought it was very shortsighted by the UFC how they went about doing it.
…I don’t see what other people are saying, ‘There’s no way Conor can touch this guy.’ There is. No one is perfect. There’s openings there. Of course, he’s a bigger man, he’s got more power and you’ve gotta be super careful. But Conor trains with big guys like this…He’s not enormous. He’s not some Goliath man. He’s a little bit bigger. Conor would have reach on him, he would have technique on him in the striking, for sure. He’d have to of course deal with that power. … I certainly don’t in my head go, ‘Oh my God, no. We couldn’t possibly beat him.’ It’s a doable fight.
John Kavanagh Knew Conor McGregor’s UFC 205 Fight Was 'Mismatch'
Kavanagh says he doubts there will be a Croke Park fight for McGregor, because pay-per-view fights are scheduled for 10pm in Las Vegas.
I doubt [there’ll be a fight in Croke Park] because it would have to be at 5am and I don’t think the authorities would allow it. Could you imagine an Irish crowd at 5am? Even the fight we just did was at 1am – we were walking out and there was people yawning in the changing rooms. At 1am your body starts to shut down and we were going out to fight…They always do it for Vegas. I don’t quite know why. I guess they’ve done the numbers and it all makes sense. It’s all down to pay-per-views. They did one in Sweden for a famous Swedish fighter. It was at 5.30am and there were people in the crowd fast asleep.
Kavanagh appears on MMA Live with Helwani to talk about UFC 205. On McGregor’s baby announcement.
People always roll their eyes when I say this, but Conor is an extremely private person. Of course he has the promotion side of fights. But [try to] find pictures of him when there’s no fights going on. He doesn’t really go out. He doesn’t have a massive friend circle. Most of the time it’s just him and Dee together.
Kavanagh says he’s open to McGregor fighting anyone.
There’s a lot of fights I’d like to see. I think Canor is pound for pound the best unarmed combatant on the planet right now, regardless of what kind of combat sport it is. To me, it’s a real privilege to see him in action. I’d like to see him test different styles. Whether it’s Khabib the lightweight, whether it’s the trilogy fight with Nate, or the Aldo match at 145. Who knows with Conor? [Or Mayweather?] That would be great too. I’d be very curious to see that too. Bring them on.
When Kavanagh is asked about Alvarez employing similar tactics against McGregor as he did when he defeated Anthony Pettis, he says:
That would seem to be the smart money. The Pettis fight was a nice one for us to study, you know, he’s kind of a slick southpaw. The glaring difference would be that Pettis wouldn’t be known for fighting with his hands on the inside. Beautiful kicks. Eddie just smothered that. That’s not to say that Eddie doesn’t enjoy a brawl. He seems to. Anything I’ve heard from him, he seems to be very up for that. They’ve been studying Conor’s style of boxing. I’m looking at them doing a lot of pads and maybe they feel they do see a glaring hole there. Eddie does feel like he can expose him. I mean he’s coming off of a knockout victory of a tough guy [Rafael dos Anjos], so maybe they see that as their route to victory.
He disagrees with McGregor’s prediction that the Irishman will win in the first round:
I’ll go with 2nd round. I’m going to be conservative. I do think Round 1 will be quite a lot on the fence. But, it’s an exhausting style, especially the way Conor can defend himself on the fence, he doesn’t rely on muscle he relies on posture, which is not tiring. It just takes one break. Round 2 they start. The shot won’t be quite as fast. The muscles won’t be quite as energetic and he’s a slippery customer to try and hold for that length of time. So I think around about the eight-minute mark. That’s when it’ll happen.
Alvarez and McGregor appear in the the first episode of UFC 205 Embedded. Their respective coaches and sparring partners also appear. Alvarez:
Conor McGregor is so offensive minded and never on the defense that whenever you put him on the defense he gets so flustered and so upset. At a certain point on our press conference cal he got desperate and started talking about my wife and kids and things like that. For me, It’s just a sign of desperation. You don’t talk about another man’s family unless you’re through the roof pissed off.
Just more of the same hard f-cking work. Day in day out.
In an interview with McMahon, Kavanagh outlines the different options open to McGregor after UFC 205.
To be honest, things change so rapidly, we are not too sure what the next step is going to be. Right now we are just going to focus on this contest. Let’s get this positive result. [However,] there are so many options for Conor right now. The [Floyd] Mayweather fight is still kind of hanging in there. [Conor] is the [145-pound] champion. In a couple of weeks he will be the [155-pound] champion. The Nate [Diaz] trilogy is there. Maybe going back to [145lbs]. So, a lot of things are up in the air. I’m sure Conor will have an interesting announcement to make after the fight. So, stay tuned.
On the possibility of Mayweather-McGregor fight:
There is only one way that Floyd would step in and that would be pure boxing. Absolutely, that’s the only way.
Coach Kavanagh talks about McGregor’s preparation in the lead up to UFC 205. On Alvarez’s chances:
A few knocks and bruises can absolutely be expected at the end of a tough training camp. But no injuries..Any takedown Eddie gets he’s going to have to fight tooth and nail for. And even if he does get a takedown, it’s gonna be an exhausting process. And if even if you do get [Conor] down, he’s very, very difficult to hold down. And if you are holding him down you’re gonna be eating big elbows, submission attempts. He’s gonna be talking, reminding him how tiring it’s getting. He’s a tough guy for anyone.
On the weight class:
It’s like the Goldilocks porridge — a little bit too hot, a little bit too cold, and just right…Conor can pretty much diet to 55. But getting 55 to 45, you look at his body and think, ‘Where can I get 10 pounds off?’…He’s gonna be shredded I’m sure but not gaunt. It really is the Goldilocks McGregor fight.
The Mac Lifereleases a video interview with Roddy and Kavanagh. Roddy:
At 70 kilos (155 pounds) [McGregor] is at the best weight that suits his body”, Roddy explains. “For me just working on the pads with him, he just seems a lot sharper, a lot faster. I don’t feel like he’s lost any power and he’s gained a bit of speed. This is the weight he should fight at and should have always fought at. I think we’re going to see the best Conor.
Routine, routine, routine. This was always my way. Conor is more flowy and artistic and does things as he feels is the right time to do them but he has seen the benefit of it as well. For the last few months now, I could tell you six weeks in advance what today’s session was going to be. It’s paid dividends. It did in the last fight and we’ve continued it on to this one.
Exclusive interview with John Kavanagh and Owen Roddy before UFC 205: The Mac Life
Coach Kavanagh says McGregor will give ‘positive news’ after UFC 205.
I’ve heard him say a few different things and they’re all positive. Whatever way he goes with this, it’s only positive. Conor has such a hyperactive mind and a hyperactive body, you’d never know what’s going to happen with him. But for sure it’s a positive announcement. I know people are going to enjoy what he has to say.
John Kavanagh on Conor McGregor's impending announcement
The Mac Lifereleases a video of McGregor and the rest of SBG undergoing a grappling class with Coach Kavanagh, while nutritionist Lockhart details both his time in Ireland, and managing McGregor’s weight leading up to UFC 205. Lockhart:
I’ve got enough food to feed a small army…or Conor McGregor.
Conor McGregor and Team SBG putting in the work: The Mac Life Series 2
Kavanagh says that a couple of months before McGregor joined the UFC, someone tried to sign him as his manager to a very restrictive deal.
That would have cost him around 20-25% of his earnings in return for something like €1,000 a month. Conor was rushing to sign it, saying: ‘I’m getting a thousand euros for doin nuthin!’ I begged him not to sign – I literally ripped the deal away from him – and to this day I bring it up every now and again: ‘Do you remember that?’ Because Conor will still get a contract, flick straight to the end, and look at the number without knowing what he’s committing to…He was on the dole, earning €100 a fight and training at the height of winter in a cold gym. His annual earnings for that five-year period was something like €1,500 a year! There was no money. Now it’s a 10-car cavalcade wherever we go, but back then there was just the two of us.
Shortly after, McGregor earned a €60,000 fight bonus for his first round finish of Marcus Brimage, and is now the highest paid UFC athlete.
Kavanagh talks about the first time McGregor came to his gym.
Well, it was supposed to be a spar, but it was a fight. Owen [Reddy] was the top dog back then and the new guy [McGregor] wanted to test himself…Owen had been with me a long time — he was my boy — but this new kid moved in a certain way. He was a southpaw, a good boxer and he just had a way about him that made you go: ‘What’s going to happen here?’ And he caught Owen with a good shot and put him down. [And then he floored Aisling Daly], which sounds worse than it was. He wasn’t hitting her in the head or anything, but just happened to throw a body shot that hit her in the sweet spot, the solar plexus, and put her down…I got a little emotional because Ash had been with me a long time and the other guys would look after her. But this new guy had come in and put her down, and my protective nature kicked in. I was still fighting at that stage, or hadn’t stopped that long, so I put the gloves on… actually, he has corrected me on that and says it was bare knuckles. But I held him down and beat the shit out of him, without putting too fine a point on it… I kept hitting him in the body until he couldn’t breathe and then I looked at him: ‘What’s it going to be? We can train or we can fight?’ And he was OK from the next day.
Kavanagh talks about going to J-Lo’s party with McGregor and Ronaldo. When McGregor was taken away by Lopez for a dance, Ronaldo questioned the coach.
Ronaldo comes over and tells me that he reads everything I write and follows me on Instagram. I’m thinking ‘Wait until I tell my dad about this’…[Even though I moved to another part of the party] he kept coming over, and then he would drift away, and then I’d be in another part [of the house] and he’d come over again…This guy is just like Conor. Just a one-track mind, no interest in anything else. Civilians would call them obsessed or say there was something wrong with them, but you can’t get to that level unless you have that personality.
In advance of Kavanagh’s appearance on The Late Late Show, McGregor gives a shout out to his coach and the fans.
It’s great to see Coach Kavanagh getting the recognition he deserves. What an amazing coach he is. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in without [his] guidance throughout the years…I want to give a shout out out everyone back in Ireland…I want to thank you and let you know that it’s that motivation that continues to push me on, to work harder each day and stay focused, and make the right moves on this crazy journey I’m on.
Coach Kavanagh says that McGregor will decide on his next fight when he returns to Ireland in the next few days. On the potential of a fight with Alvarez:
It’s a great fight…It’s a pretty straightforward fight for Conor to be honest. Will he get it? I can tell you that we’re in talks. It will be decided whether they are going to go with that fight within days…If the next fight is for the lightweight strap, they will take the featherweight belt off Conor. I think that’s a given. I guess, the little bit of consolation Conor will take from that is that it will be two guys he has beaten fighting for the vacant featherweight title…It will probably be (Max) Holloway and (Jose) Aldo. He beat one in 13 seconds and one on one leg. It’s hard to say that on paper he isn’t the champion when he’s beaten the two guys who are fighting for his belt. He’ll probably do the same to the lightweight division.
At the BAMMA 26 press conference in Dublin, Kavanagh says that he used to struggle to sell ticket for McGregor fights.
You know sometimes I laugh because I used to run small amateur shows, well they were pro fights back then but they really were amateur shows, and I remember I had a show with Gunnar Nelson, Conor McGregor, Aisling Daly and Paddy Holohan and it was a tenner for a ticket and I struggled selling them. I’d probably sell them out now pretty handy, but what I’d say to fans now is [BAMMA 26] is your chance to look at future stars [in Irish MMA]. For me BAMMA is more or less the top show in Europe, and you don’t have to be bowing down to the UFC, because as far as I’m concerned, these fighters have skill levels that are as good as anyone, regardless if they fight in the UFC or BAMMA.
Kavanagh says McGregor’s UFC 202 training not only used training partners capable of mimicking Diaz inside the cage on MMA sparring day, they also attempted to mimic fight day conditions in every other possible way.
We made sure that we did a lot of very accurate fight simulations. On our MMA sparring day, we really treated it the exact same as fight day. What he was going to eat on fight day, how he was going to rest – we mimicked it perfectly. We left the house at the same time he was going to leave the house for fight day. One of the guys that we brought in as a sparring partner, they didn’t hang out together, they didn’t become friends, they didn’t chat to each other. And when they would go into the gym, they would get changed in a different room and they wouldn’t talk to each other until they were actually sparring. And then, as sort of a stroke of luck, this particular guy we got, he actually liked to do some shit-talking.
Coach John Kavanagh on Conor McGregor at UFC 202 | Mentality of Combat Sports
In reply to a screenshot of an article where Kavanagh said he’d prefer for McGregor to go to 155lb and fight Alvarez for the lightweight championship, and in addition predicted a second round knockout, Henry says:
John Kavanagh, for a jiu-jitsu coach who can’t event teach his student Conor McGregor how to tie his belt and just got subbed quick you have a lot to say. PS give the proceeds of your book to the striking coach, he deserves it.
@SandhuMMA it won't. I'll focus on my fighter. I'm not a fighter and I'm not interested in headlines, I'm just a coach doing my best.
Kavanagh writes an article for The 42, where he talks about UFC 200 and what he would like McGregor to do next.
A lot of Conor’s fights have been short and relatively straightforward — which is great, because those wins are also to be enjoyed — but to see him go 25 minutes and face adversity, especially when so many people expected him to lose, it doesn’t get much better than that when you face those odds and come out with a victory…Where do we go from here? Well, we’re taking a short while to enjoy this victory, first of all, because it’s something we invested a lot in…I think it’s important to enjoy each victory, at least to a certain extent. Conor was actually back doing cardio work less than 48 hours after last weekend’s fight, so the training has continued…From a personal point of view, my own preference would be a lightweight title bout against reigning champion Eddie Alvarez next. Conor can make 145lbs to defend his featherweight belt, absolutely, but I just think 155lbs suits him best. Ultimately that’s Conor’s decision, not mine…If and when that fight is announced, I would be leaning towards a second-round knockout in Conor’s favour.
Kavanagh also says he welcomes the idea of a fight at Croke Park, in Dublin, and that non-US fights should be scheduled for Irish local time.
Coach Kavanagh confirms to MMA Hour that McGregor did not injure his foot or leg during his fight with Diaz. McGregor landed 40 kicks to the leg of Diaz throughout the 25 minutes.
It’s a bad bruise and it’s very, very painful but there’s no damage. He never mentioned it [that he was injured] but I saw. If I remember correctly, in the third round there were one or two where Nate did turn his knee out and started checking them. And the range was a little bit wrong so he was kind of slapping with the foot and caught Nate’s knee. I just remember seeing that but I knew with adrenaline and with his mindset, it wasn’t going to make a difference. His shin could be clean snapped and he wasn’t going to stop for the five rounds. We discussed it as well. He knew he was going to bang up his left leg. That was going to be the sacrifice. It was going to be a bruised leg but victorious.
In his interview on MMA Hour, Kavanagh talks about the effect of McGregor’s training camp.
I think the first round of the fight was all Conor. I think there is the technical superiority there. I don’t think that will have changed with 18 weeks training. I don’t think Nate will have been able to catch up on that. Clearly the way the contest ended, there was a substantial conditioning difference between the two. That’s what we have changed. Skill wise, it takes maybe ten years, the 10,000 hour rule, to get to a mastery level in something. But conditioning wise, 18 weeks is a lifetime… So I think he is the somewhat perfect MMA fighter now.
On McGregor’s mood:
I have never seen him like this six days out from a fight. Six days out from a fight is normally…you got to creep around the house a bit because the weight cut’s in, he’s tired of training at this stage and all the media obligations. Where we didn’t have to do all that much this time, there is no weight to be cut, training went perfect. He is like a kid on Christmas Eve.
UFC releases a second trailer for Bad Blood, showing McGregor sparring with southpaws, including Wallace.
I’m certainly preparing a lot more specific. Usually, I don’t prepare specific, because they always pull out, every time. I know Nate will show up. This time I know this fight will go down. This time I know I’ll be facing a tall, lanky southpaw, with the height, the weight, and the reach on me. So I am preparing accordingly…I’m feeling very confident. It’s gonna be a bad night for Nate.
For the first fight we didn’t even have one training session with a similar opponent. Now, it’s all we’ve done for the last few months.
Kavanagh says that, after his loss to Sitenkov in 2008, McGregor stopped attending SBG and went missing for a few weeks. Concerned by his behaviour, McGregor’s mother, Margaret, called Kavanagh to try and get him to convince her son to return to training and steer him back on track.
Yeah (it was big). Maybe you and me wouldn’t be talking now (if it didn’t happen). At that stage, he’d already disappeared for four or six weeks. I kind of just moved on with what I was doing and sort of half forgot about him if I’m being honest. Over the years, I must have had what must be over tens of thousands of guys come through my doors at this stage. You get these little flames of enthusiasm and sparks of possibilities but then they fizzle out for the 99.9-per-cent. So, I think I was already putting him down to being one of those could’ve been type people. And maybe if I hadn’t of driven up that night to try give us one more chance, maybe he would’ve been a has been and be that guy on the bar stool talking about ‘I could’ve been that guy, I could’ve done this.’ So yeah, I’m glad his mother called me and I’m of course very happy that I went up there and we worked it out and he came back. And since then, we’ve been a fairly rock-solid team.
In an article for The 42, Kavanagh details his approach to McGregor’s training.
We’ve been following that pattern now for what feels like a long time — about 19 weeks in total come fight night. Although it seems like it has been a long process, we’re definitely seeing the fruits of our labour. There are certain fitness tests that we have numbers on, and the improvements from when Conor began to where he is now have been dramatic. There’s no comparing this training camp to any we have done previously. I can’t stress enough how different this has been. As many of you will probably already know, routine hasn’t been something you would have associated with Conor’s preparations in the past. But this has been like nothing we’ve done before and it’s going to be a massive help for his next number of fights, not just this one…We’re learning about this art as we go along…I strongly believe that will manifest itself in Las Vegas in 12 days’ time…I’ve often spoken of how drastically Conor improves with each training camp, and while there’s certainly no denying that he gets better for every fight, this has undoubtedly been his biggest leap forward yet…Patience will be essential for Conor in this fight. I’m veering towards a fourth-round finish in his favour, following an opening three rounds which I expect him to dominate in the same manner he did in the first frame of the previous fight.
In an interview on Fox Sports, Coach Kavanagh says McGregor is looking to make a statement.
I really feel it has to be a very dominant performance to make the type of statement that Conor wants to make. For me, round 1 was quite one sided. I’m pretty sure anybody would have scored that round for Conor. That’s the way I see it going this time. Even more in Conor’s favor, because there was some exchanges in that first round that he was still figuring out which way Nate moves. Whereas now it’s been a fairly obsessive couple of months where we feel we have a very strong game plan to counter everything he does. I expect it to be one sided, but how long as it lasts, it’s difficult to predict. But as long as it does last, I expect it to be one sided.
Conor McGregor's Coach John Kavanagh Is Looking For Dominance At UFC 202
Kavanagh says he knew McGregor was special, after seeing him train at SBG Ireland’s gym as an 18-year-old novice to mixed martial arts.
It was very obvious from early on that Conor had this unusual set of skills contained in the one person. It’s tempting to talk about Muhammad Ali when you talk about Conor just from the showman side of things. There is a certain set skills, as Liam Neeson might say, that are required to become the no.1 in this world. And certainly being very good at the sport is a huge part of it. But to have the x-factor, to be able to have charisma, to be able to speak on the mic and be able to deal with the heavy media attention, that’s something that I don’t think you can be taught. That’s something that’s in somebody or it’s not. I’ve seen it before with guys who are incredible in the gym but the can’t do it on fight night or they can’t handle the pressures of dealing with a bunch of interviews and so on and so forth.
Despite his admiration for Aldo’s performance, Kavanagh says he does not expect a different outcome when Aldo meets McGregor, most likely in November. He also expresses his regret at the fact that Edgar was unable to get the job done against Aldo.
Probably I had a little personal vision or dream of it being Edgar going in and doing amazing against Aldo…It would have been just amazing. As storylines go, that would have been really, really exciting. Really, really interesting. But I guess Aldo showed he had ‘The Answer’ again, and I think Aldo — I said this in the lead-up to Conor’s fight — is one of the best in the world at beating short wrestlers…There are certain things he’s doing that are really, really brilliant, but then on the other side I look at it and go, ‘It’s pretty much the same guy that [Conor] beat the last time’. It’s not the most unpredictable style — Muay Thai, defensive wrestling. It just looked a very similar guy…I think [Aldo] has improved a lot at beating that sort of guy again, but Conor’s not a short wrestler. I’m sure Aldo will have a more tempered approach the next time. I think the first time he did certain things that I don’t think he will do the second time. It will be very hard to beat 13 seconds the second time but he will definitely want to show his dominance and that it wasn’t a lucky punch.
Kavanagh says that he expects McGregor to win against Diaz so comprehensively that another rematch won’t be required.
I want this win to be in such a way that there are no questions. If this is a back-and-forth contest, if Conor ekes out a decision, then it has to be [a rubber match]. Nate obviously did fantastic in their first match. Conor accepted the change of weight class and style with very short notice, but you’ve got to give massive props to Nate. He accepted it on very short notice [too]. Now let’s do it where both guys have had months and months of preparation, and there can be no questions asked. And let’s make the victory in such a way that no one can say, ‘Well, he was close, he was close, let’s do the best out of three’. Neither can bitch or moan. Conor can’t say anything about it — ‘Well, new style of opponent, new weight class’ — and Nate can’t say anything about, ‘Well, it was on nine day’s notice’. No. You both knew who you were fighting, you both knew at what weight class, you both had months of preparation. Who won that one? I want that to be decisive. Now, in saying that, maybe there still is cause for a rubber match, but I think it’ll be done in such a way that there won’t be.
Coach Kavanagh says McGregor is reaching new levels of training in Las Vegas.
If I was to sum it up, there’s order to this training camp. There’s no chaos. Everything is very disciplined, very military style. Beforehand, it was kind of done on Conor’s whim, how he felt on a certain day. This training camp has been based on cycles. Every day, we start at 1 p.m. sharp. In the evenings, we do cardio training. Everything is measured, nothing is left to ‘How you feeling?’ We have a performance doctor taking care of the performance side of things, I’m taking care of the fighting side of things, everybody is working together and nothing we’ve done before comes close to comparison for this one…he last couple of weeks there has been a real level of growth to what he has been able to do. Now, he really is a truly elite athlete. He has always been an incredible fighter, but now, training like a true Olympian-style champion — for me, that’s a scary combination.
McGregor and Kavanagh talk about the fighter’s training program in a profile in the Irish Examiner. McGregor starts training at 1pm, with intense workout for over an hour. After lunch he spars with partners brought over from all around the world, finishing with more cardio in the evening. McGregor:
[For UFC 196] I was waking up late and training late, showing up here at maybe 2pm and still being here till one in the morning. Like a buzzing light. Buzzzz. I was never fully on and I was never off. I was just there. That’s not what this game is about. You need to be…[clicks fingers]…On.
Kavanagh admits he did not pay enough attention to McGregor’s training, and that the Diaz loss has helped them focus.
After the Aldo fight, I’ll admit in terms of training Conor, my foot went off the pedal altogether. I got caught up with stuff in the gym…It was supposed to be only for a week or two but it turned into six or seven and then I realised ‘We’re just two weeks out from this and I’ve barely done a session with Conor.’ Now it’s every day. We’re here at 1pm. Sharp…The only reason it didn’t happen for Conor in round two was because he got tired. That’s one thing that will not happen in this contest…The Conor that’s going out there on August 20 is an absolutely new model. This is Conor 3.0 compared to what went up against Diaz in March. And I’ve said it to Conor, whenever he’s fought his next few fights and he calls it a day, we will look at the first Diaz fight as the absolute most positive thing that ever happened to us because it taught us so much.