Thornton, who founded SBG Gym in 1992 and who trained Kavanagh, talks about Kavanagh’s influence on the gym, and about his influence on McGregor.
Conor has the advantage as the underdog. It’s a role he occupies well. He has the advantage as the much younger man. Conor has the advantage as the underdog. It’s a role he occupies well. He has the advantage as the much younger man. He has the advantage as a southpaw, something that’s troubled Mayweather before. He has the advantage in that, coming from an MMA background he may bring some tactics and strategies Mayweather is unfamiliar with. And above all else, he has the advantage in that he has a coach named John Kavanagh in his corner. Everything John’s done has been good for everyone in SBG. It’s a loyal tribe, and he’s an impressive general.
Roddy, McGregor’s striking coach, says that he will be on duty at McGregor’s side during the Mayweather fight, and that the fighter will also be supported by Lovov, his sparring partner, and coach Kavanagh.
At the moment, it’s going to be me, John, possibly Artem and I think there’s four. Obviously he’ll have to get his own cut man and stuff like that. He hasn’t sorted that just yet. But it’ll definitely be myself, John and Artem at the moment…We’re not bringing anybody in as of yet, but who knows down the line…We’re gonna head over the states in the next couple of weeks. But at the moment, we’re in Dublin, we’re all working together. We came up with a game plan that we think can shock the world and we’re gonna stick to that for the time being.
In a column for The 42, Kavanagh says he has no respect for Mayweather and his gym’s training practices.
When I was in Australia in April, a lot was made of the fact that I highlighted Mayweather’s history of domestic violence during an interview. I’m not sure why people felt this was such a big deal, given that the man has already been convicted of beating up women. That’s a fact. I have absolutely no time for any man with a track record of such behaviour. In addition to that, from what I’ve seen of his gym, it appears to be the type of atmosphere in which bullies thrive. As many people will know, being bullied is what originally led me to martial arts. I’ve sought to create an atmosphere in my gym where people who have been victims of bullying can feel safe. In Mayweather’s gym, the better fighter bullies his training partner. But that’s not how it should work. The better fighter should always be conscious of their duty to pass on their expertise and help their training partners to grow. It should never be a competition in the gym. To me, Mayweather is a lowlife. He’s a guy I’d never want to have any contact with. Regardless of the outcome of this fight, I won’t be shaking his hand.
In a column for The 42, Kavanagh talks about the fight preparations and says that McGregor will fight under boxing rules at 145 pounds.
That fight is close to being agreed and it will be at a weight very close to 145 pounds — maybe just a couple of pounds above that — so Conor will show once again that making that weight, if necessary, isn’t an issue for him. Everything has been agreed from Conor’s perspective, from numbers to ruleset (pure boxing). I don’t know what’s taking Mayweather so long to sign the contract but we’re 100% ready to go. The ball is in his court now. We’re training for the fight — September has been mentioned — so we’re just waiting for the news with each passing day. The experts may not be giving Conor much of a chance, but I wouldn’t allow myself to be involved in preparing any fighter for a contest if I didn’t think we could win. I know a lot of people are dismissing it as merely a money-grab or a spectacle. If it purely was that, I’d wish Conor well but I wouldn’t be part of it…I believe he can do it and Conor is 100% sure about that outcome.
Kavanagh says he was initially skeptical about McGregor taking on Mayweather.
When I first sat with him and he started explaining the Mayweather fight, it made no sense to me. By the end of the half-hour conversation, he had me shadowboxing him in the room, watching boxing videos…[After Conor and the UFC come to their agreement] it became a lot more real to me. I was enjoying the buildup, the talk, the idea of it. But it wasn’t until Conor messaged me and said, ‘It’s done, I’ve signed,’ that I was like, ‘Oh, OK. We actually are boxing.’…There could still be negotiations going on four weeks out, but the big mistake would be to mentally put off the heavy training until every detail is agreed upon. We are training now. We’re ready for that date in the fall, whenever that might be. We’ll let the lawyers and suits deal with the nuances of who gets this and who gets that. Conor is a fighter. I am his coach. We’ll focus on the contest at hand.
Kavanagh says McGregor will find it tough to get a fair boxing referee.
If I’m speaking plainly, and I don’t know how much trouble this will get me in, I think we’re going to have a hard time finding a fair referee and a fair set of judges. It will be very difficult for a 50- to 60-year-old boxing referee to not go into this bout a little bit biased. Actually, I’ll throw this out there, I think [U.K.-based MMA referee] Marc Goddard should be the referee. We’re already agreeing to boxing rules, boxing fight, boxing ring — everything is done boxing. So, how about an MMA referee that will understand the inside fighting that will go into this fight?
Kavanagh says he is already working with McGregor to prepare for his bout with Mayweather.
I was enjoying the buildup, the talk, the idea of it. But it wasn’t until Conor messaged me and said, ‘It’s done, I’ve signed,’ that I was like, ‘Oh, OK. We actually are boxing…I have a pretty good idea on how I see the fight going. Over the next three to four months, we need to put that plan into action. Drill it. See how it works in the gym. Mix and match the plan until we have it right for the night of the fight…[There will be a boxing expert on the team] 100 percent. And the reason why, is that I want to know how boxing people think. It’s not throwing punches. Owen Roddy has that. I need a voice from that world to bounce some of the ideas I have about this contest off of. How he thinks a referee might see something, how a judge sees something. That’s the reason to have someone from boxing, as opposed to learning how to box…We’re not going to spend 10 to 12 years doing something one way and then, because it’s a boxing fight, change everything for three months and beat the best defensive boxer of all time. No. We’ve got to come at this with an MMA striking strategy. Of course, hands only, but maybe there are things we can do from an MMA perspective, which, if people study boxing from the early 20th century, those things were a bigger part in the boxing game than they are today. We’re bringing an old-school boxing approach.
Kavanagh says McGregor will not be using boxing trainer Freddie Roach for the Mayweather fight.
I will say this: Mayweather has proven himself to be perfect against guys who have trained purely in boxing. I was asked very early on, ‘Are you going to bring in Freddie Roach? He’s the greatest boxing trainer in the world right now.’ OK. I’m an evidence-based guy. I don’t make decision based on emotions. Has Freddie trained somebody to fight Mayweather before? Yes. And a southpaw. A hard-hitting southpaw! And the plan didn’t work…Obviously, Freddie Roach is incredible. I’ve been trying to immerse myself in the boxing world, and Freddie has been called one of the last great guys to understand it all — trainer, cutman, psychologist to the young fighters, technician — but he did come up short in his approach to Mayweather.
Coach Kavanagh says Holloway will have no trouble beating Aldo in the upcoming main event at UFC 212 to become the undisputed featherweight champion.
I’ve said it since Conor fought him: apart from Conor, Max Holloway is the second-best guy at 145 [pounds]. I think Holloway will win convincingly. There are a lot of similarities in both of their styles, in terms of being busy strikers who are used to guys trying to take them down. Max is maybe a little bit more dangerous when it comes to submissions. He’ll go for guillotines and stuff on takedowns, whereas Aldo is almost exclusively about defending the takedown. I think Max has grown a lot too. Even since Conor fought him he has improved. Aldo tends to do better against short, stocky wrestlers. He seems to have the perfect game for that. I don’t know if there’s somebody of that style who could possibly beat him. He’s almost perfect for that style. But here he is again, in against somebody he very rarely faces: a taller, striking-based opponent. We might see Aldo having to struggle and look for takedowns. I actually think that will be Aldo’s approach, that he’ll try to grapple. But I think Holloway will either defend them, make him uncomfortable with submission attempts, or else he’ll be able to keep it on the feet and win a decision. I think that’s how it’ll play out: Holloway by decision.
Kavanagh joins criticism of Ferguson for not accepting a short notice fight with Michael Johnson after Khabib Nurmagomedov pulled out of UFC 209,
Leading to Ferguson to respond:
Trainers like you callin’ themselves coach. When all they do is ride coattails and try to claim. Maintain your lane bitch.
At an event at Sydney’s Star Casino, Coach Kavanagh says that, despite hopes that McGregor would one day fight in front of home fans at Croke Park in Dublin, it most likely won’t happen.
I have to be honest, I don’t ever see him fighting in Ireland again. Just the time difference [between Ireland and peak American viewing time]. He’d be doing a 4am walk the way Alex Gustafsson had to do. Imagine Irish people from 8pm to 4am drinking and then Conor walking out … there’d be 80,000 people asleep on chairs. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
At an event at the Star Casino in Sydney, Australia, Kavanagh says that while he respects Mayweather as a fighter, he has none for him as a person.
I do think Floyd Mayweather is pretty much a dirtbag. He’s beat up his girlfriends…He just strikes me as a real bullying type character. He makes these guys fight endless rounds (in his gym) until one is badly hurt…just not a good individual. In saying that, that’s his personality. Technically he’s obviously a very, very sound boxer. I’m a fan of his skills but as a human being, the way he runs his gym and the way he carries himself…
At an event at Sydney’s Star Casino, Coach Kavanagh says McGregor will return to MMA if the Mayweather fight doesn’t happen.
What I see happening this year is the Mayweather fight, maybe the end of the summer or something like that. [But] let’s say Mayweather doesn’t want to do it, for whatever reason. Then I could see us fighting in MMA by the end of the summer, [for] the lightweight belt. One thing you’ve got to understand about Conor — and this might rattle your bones — is his motivation is not money when it comes to fighting. Right now, even with his ridiculous spending habits, he wouldn’t be able to spend his money by the time he retired. It’s not money that’s getting him up in the morning. It’s the competition. It’s facing someone he genuinely feels is a threat.
At an event at the Star Casino in Sydney, Kavanagh explains how McGregor can beat Woodley.
I’d fancy [Conor] in there with Woodley. He’s just another wrestler with an overhand right, and that’s the type Conor grew up knocking out. So I wouldn’t see a massive challenge in that. I would like to see Gunni get that belt. Gunnar Nelson will be the next SBG world champion.
At an event in Sydney’s Star Casino, Coach Kavanagh says that preparations for a McGregor-Mayweather fight have been underway for some time. He also says the fight will happen in September, and if not, certainly by the end of the year.
It’s happening, 100 per cent. Before I came out here I had a sit down with Conor and we (put in place) a training plan. Right now he’s doing base level cardio training so that when I get back we can go into specific training. We have a ‘secret dojo’ set up with a championship-level boxing ring that will exactly mirror the situation when it happens. Where my gym is, the guy who owns my gym, owns the entire estate, and there’s a building — I’m kinda giving away a secret here — there’s a building at the back and he’s just going to give it to me until the fight is on. So we’re getting that kitted out. We’re going to make it into kind of a stadium with a full-sized boxing ring. We’ll have weekly or biweekly sparring sessions where we invite people in to make it feel like a fight and bring in different sparring partners.
What makes the Mayweather fight competitive? Well, Mayweather’s Mayweather, in terms of defensive boxing — I’ve studied Mayweather, I find this ‘Philly shell’ fascinating, how he’s able to keep himself safe — but everyone can be beat. He’s had trouble in the past with southpaws. Pacquiao got some good shots off on him. There were moments in that fight where Pacquiao could have done some things a little different. The way he was able to tie Pacquiao up on the inside — he’s not going to do that to us. If he tries to tie us up in the clinch, that’s not going to work. And [McGregor] has the death touch. If that lands, I don’t care if you’re Mayweather, Juneweather, Julyweather … you’re still going to go down.
Coach Kavanagh says McGregor has started to put together the training agenda to fight Mayweather.
In my mind, it’s on. That’s the mentality we’re in. Like you said, there’s a lot of fingers in the pie on this one. There’s different promotions, different organizations, different commissions that are involved but as far as I’m concerned, I really believe it’s going to happen this year. That’s the mindset I have. Let the people in the suits worry about the paperwork. We’re training for it.
On the training program:
Boxing is one of the 10 skills you need for mixed martial arts. But now we’re only doing boxing so we can drop wrestling and jiu-jitsu and Thai boxing, we can just focus on the boxing. So of course we’re getting ready to fight arguably one of the best defensive boxers of all time, but the training will become simplified ’cause we only have to do boxing so it’s a new challenge I’m excited about.
In an interview with The Irish Mirror, Coach Kavanagh says McGregor wrote him an essay on everything he did wrong after knocking out Aldo for the world featherweight title.
When I meet someone in sport or business I’m always interested to find out, how did they get over their biggest loss? I’ve had plenty of losses and failures but it’s about what you do with them. You don’t see a loss or a failure as a reason to quit you see it as an opportunity to learn. Conor and I have done that since day one. We’ve had plenty of losses in the cage but we use them to improve ourselves, come back and have plenty of wins too. Certainly at the beginning if Conor had a loss he would treat it as a reason to quit and I’d have to drag him down from his house. But that doesn’t happen anymore. You see him at his last loss, as soon as the fight was over he was analysing what he did wrong. He was humble in defeat. We got back in the gym, got ourselves a four- month plan and showed the world what we can do with a loss. If I have a fighter and after a win they go on a bender for four-and-a-half weeks, I forget about them. They’re wasting my time. I always use this story that when Conor beat Aldo to unify the 145 level, he argues it was an 11- second fight but it was 13 seconds on the record book, one punch and it was over. But he’s the most self-critical fighter I’ve ever met, and that night we went out for a bit and when we came home he wrote me an essay on everything he’d done wrong. It was only a 13 second fight.
In response to Kevin Iole’s comments implying that Conlan is being hyped:
Kavanagh says Conlan has the skills to succeed:
I know Michael a little bit personally and he’s got the ‘x’ factor. Smart, thinks fast, witty, dresses sharp even down to how he cornered Conor into agreeing to walk him out for his debut…..brilliant. Not only winner of countless boxing titles but also winner of Ireland’s sports personality of the year. This is not someone sitting around waiting for outside influences to ‘push’ him….he’s out there every day doing the damn pushing! He’s actively making himself the ‘money fight’, not moaning at promoters about wanting the ‘money fight’. Combat sports like boxing and mma need more like him.
Coach Kavanagh says he expects McGregor to fight the winner of the UFC 209 bout between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov.
I would love the challenge of it, for Conor to test himself in that area. I’ll be honest, right from the beginning I’ve been hearing ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’ … We’re kind of used to being told to what we can’t do, but we don’t pay too much attention to it, we just get on and make things happen. I’ve said it before, the Nate rematch interests me a lot because it’s one-one and how the styles match up. Almost on a par with that, not much difference, would be the winner of Khabib-Ferguson this weekend. I think Khabib does it, I think Khabib will be the winner, so I think Khabib will be the match-up out of that. I find it hard to imagine not seeing [McGregor back in MMA]. Even if and when the Mayweather fight was going to happen, and he got that out of the way. I know, like myself, I do believe his true love is free combat sports and there is no ‘free-er’ combat sport than mixed martial arts. I can’t imagine him not fighting the winner of [Khabib vs. Ferguson]. Now we gotta see what happens with the Mayweather talks and all that, but yeah, I do believe that will happen.
Kavanagh says he knew from the first fight that McGregor would become UFC world champion.
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 of 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
Kavanagh says training for a Mayweather boxing match would be easier than the average MMA fight.
In a weird way, you’re getting prepared to fight one of the best boxers there’s ever been. But in another way, it would actually almost feel like a break for us because we wouldn’t have to keep up the other skill sets. In mixed martial arts your trying to work on seven or eight different skill sets. Whereas in boxing, it’s one…it’s just boxing. It’d almost be like a break to only have to work on one and not work on everything. If the deal is right and the two of them come to an agreement and that happens we’ll of course plan for that and bring in some of the experts. But I’ll still be playing my little role in the corner.
Coach Kavanagh posts an image to Instagram showing McGregor fighting Mayweather.
Kavanagh responds to Streep’s comments that MMA is “not an art”:
A lot has been made of Meryl Streep’s ‘calling out’ of Mixed Martial Arts as not being ‘the arts’. She’s 100% right, it’s sport. I was just impressed she said mixed martial arts and not ‘cage fighting’. People probably got a little defensive with the way she was clearly saying ‘the arts’ were so much superior to ‘sport’. What would we ever do without Hollywood!!? The great american writer Joseph Campbell said the closest he ever came to a truly spiritual experience was through athletics. I wouldn’t like to think of one activity better than the other – sport or art. Just do whatever you enjoy. I think people’s main issue with her teary well acted speech was that she tried to pass herself, and the rest of her ultra rich and ultra entitled liberal friends, off as ‘an outsider’. Yes Meryl, you’re just like an illegal immigrant or starving refugee. Fuck off. Just carry on adding to your 100s of millions you’ve earned from playing pretend. You’ve known nothing but extreme wealth and privilege your whole life, so don’t look down your nose at sport which has probably helped a lot more people than the expensive drama schools you attended. Happy Tuesday haha!
After a special event at the Royal College of Surgeons, in Dublin, where Professor Healy addressed more than 50 high-level MMA fighters on the dangers of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Kavanagh says that McGregor has concerns about the long-term implications of repeated blows to the head.
It’s a concern of every fighter. At that level of fighting the risk is very real. But I think you can add on two hands the number of clean head shots Conor has taken in 10 years of pro-fighting. His style of fighting answers that, because his style is not brawling. He doesn’t step in the pocket and exchange punches. His style is in and out – he’s very defensive. That style was born through not wanting to lose and not wanting to take head shots, and not wanting to damage the software. [The key is education] We can reach that lofty goal of this being the first generation with no incidents of CTE.
Kavanagh thanks The MMA Hour and Helwani for awarding him the Coach of the Year in a Twitter video that goes awry at the end, as he falls off a Hoverboard.
Thank you so much for this great honour. I know the competition was tough after such a big year in MMA. I want you to know that winning these awards hasn’t changed anything for us — we’re still just a small humble team from Ireland.
Kavanagh says it’s bizarre that the new owners of UFC haven’t contacted McGregor yet.
He made it clear after his last fight that he’s keen to talk business with the UFC’s new owners,” he said. “I find it utterly bizarre that they’ve yet to make contact. Maybe they’re spending their time trying to get a solid framework in place. I’m not sure. It was much simpler in the old days in dealing with just Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. Now you’re almost wondering if you have to ring Mark Wahlberg or one of the other investors. Maybe Conan O’Brien is the new matchmaker. Who knows? These are strange, but interesting, times. We’ll have to see how this plays out. Certainly as the most valuable athlete on the UFC roster, you would think that he’d be heavily involved in these things but that hasn’t been the case yet.
Coach Kavanagh responds to Mayweather’s McGregor’s photo caption contest.
I think it would be more interesting if he came up with a date or contract for a fight. That would be more interesting.
Aldo criticises the UFC, McGregor and Kavanagh:
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 McGregor could beat Woodley:
…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.
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 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.
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 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.
Kavanaugh says that Tyson recently passed some financial advice to McGregor:
If it depreciates, lease it. If it appreciates, buy it…Not that [Conor] listened – he bought 25 cars the next day!
Kavanagh talks about the rumour that McGregor was knocked out during sparring.
It just picked up steam very, very quickly and within minutes I’m getting my mother ringing me, saying: What the hell is after happening to Conor?
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.
Kavanagh denies that McGregor was knocked out n sparring, and posts an Instagram as proof.
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.
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.
Kavanagh says he would like to see McGregor challenge Alvarez for the lightweight title.
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.
Coach Kavanagh posts a picture to Instagram.
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 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.