Kavanagh admits he would need to be convinced to return to McGregor’s corner for particular fights going forward. He does not want to see McGregor risk himself unnecessarily in second-rate fights, now that he is entering the final stages of his professional MMA career.
He would certainly have to convince me to go again. I love him, I love the whole journey we’ve had but I’d need a good ‘why’. It might be [Nate] Diaz again because he promised that fight. It might be a rematch with Khabib. But if it was just: ‘Well, they want me to fight that guy’ I think I’d say, ‘I wish you the best. He has a wife and two kids now and I don’t want him taking more hits than he needs to. Khabib hit him with a punch in that fight that he has never been hit with in his career. And even Superman slows down at some stage.
Kavanagh says McGregor could fight two or three times in 2019.
If he so wished, if he was driven to do it and said, ‘I’ve got the other side of things on lockdown, I’m confident with that’…Let’s do another three-year stretch of fighting three times a year,’ he could easily do that from a physical point of view, as long as he found the motivation. You best believe I’d be behind it. I’d love it. It’s so much fun. The experience of training him and coming out [to Las Vegas] for a couple weeks. The lead-up and buildup, the fight. There’s just a different feel to a Conor McGregor fight.
McGregor team’s head coach, Kavanagh, lends further weight to fellow coach Roddy’s statement last week, that the negotiations for the title fight between Nurmagomedov and McGregor are “brewing up nicely”. Kavanagh expects the matchup to take place before the end of 2018.
It’s the obvious fight, as his coach and as a fan. As a fan of MMA, it’s the fight I want to see as well. I would almost bet anything — almost bet anything — that fight happens before the end of the year. I can’t imagine it not happening.
Coach Kavanagh says that a trilogy fight with Diaz was appealing after UFC 202, but is losing appeal since McGregor has continued to elevate himself while Diaz has been sitting on the sidelines.
Conor’s had an MMA fight and a boxing fight since and we haven’t seen Nate since. So I started changing and you could see it amongst the fans who … are the most important factor in all of this because they pay for the Pay-Per-Views… But you can see it was clearly becoming they wanted to see either Khabib or Tony in there rather than [Nate], probably for the same reason that we didn’t: Nate didn’t keep busy. So I don’t think it would be quite right for that to happen before the winner of [Khabib]-Tony, because Conor, [Khabib], and Tony have kept busy and Nate hasn’t…I think Nate should get one in in the meantime. Him vs. Woodley. I hear there are rumors of that or him against a good lightweight, and if the MMA gods smile, it would be a victory for him. Conor fights the winner of [Khabib-Tony] and then you’ve got this amazing superfight for New Year’s Eve.
During a Facebook live interview to promote Wimp 2 Warrior, Kavanagh says McGregor will return to UFC in 2018.
There’s so much happening in the division and things changing around and what have you. I can’t say who [he’ll fight]. I can’t say when [he’ll be back]. As people who follow him on social media will see, he’s back, very motivated, training a lot. He’s in the gym every day. The plan seems to be forming and getting more exact every day that [he’ll be] back in the UFC this year. When and against who, I would be just guessing.
Coach Kavanagh says March 17th at Madison Square Garden in New York is a possible date for McGregor’s next fight. Reports last month suggested that McGregor had booked a comeback bout with Nate Diaz that was initially scheduled for December 30th at UFC 219. According to leading MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, that fight and date is still the plan for all parties concerned, but a deal is still far from being finalised. Appearing on The Late Late Show, Kavanagh hinted at an alternative date of March 17th:
We’re already talking about 2018 and some fights in 2018. I’m looking forward to getting him back in the gym and back into the rigmarole of training. I think that’s best for him. I keep saying it out there – so hopefully it becomes a reality – but I would love Madison Square Garden, St. Patrick’s Day, New York, for a Conor fight in the UFC.
Coach Kavanagh says McGregor’s biggest mistake was pushing too hard in the early stages of the fight against Mayweather, and succumbing to fatigue before being stopped in the tenth round. McGregor admitted that his inability to effectively manage his energy reserves played a big part in his loss.
We had also been inefficient with our energy by throwing a lot of shots in the first minute of each round, most of which Floyd caught on his gloves and forearms. When we faced that style last year against Nate — walking down, hands high — we had more success because the smaller gloves in MMA can fit through the gaps…We had also practiced a lot of hand-fighting and rotating elbows over the guard for that fight, as well as the low-kick. Obviously, those techniques aren’t options in boxing. But that’s eventually what wore Conor down. He sort of punched himself out a little bit and got caught with some shots towards the end. The referees are a little quicker to stop fights in boxing too, as opposed to what we’re used to in MMA. Having agreed to fight under boxing rules, we have no argument with that. I think it was in the fourth or fifth round when Floyd switched styles and he almost took the Nate Diaz approach of just walking forward and covering up. Conor called him ‘a Mexican’, which was a reference to the style of boxing. It’s even more effective in boxing than it is in MMA because you can catch more of your opponent’s shots on the bigger gloves. That he decided to go down that route genuinely surprised me. It’s an approach I’ve seen him use extremely rarely. I guess it was a display of both experience and technical nous — he was able to switch between styles until he found the one that worked best for him
After it was claimed that Canelo Alvarez’s representatives, Golden Boy Promotion’s, entered negations with Conor McGregor’s team shortly after his controversial middleweight title unification fight with Gennady Golovkin, John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, says that he doesn’t think it will happen:
In an interview with The Mac Life, Kavanagh says McGregor is ready
He has gone at a complete new level, now that he’s been able to focus on the hand techniques in MMA, what we call boxing…I feel this is a very interesting fight, in terms of both camps have such high expectations. A lot of times you go to an MMA fight and you expect to win, but there’s a possibility of losing. [Mayweather’s team] don’t expect Conor to land a punch. They don’t expect to win, they expect it to be an absolute walk in the park…and I can honestly say, I don’t expect this to be the hardest fight of all time for Conor. I expect him to go in there and completely dominate. So one of us is living in a delusion..I really find it hard to imagine anything else other than Conor really putting on a clinic, and really destroying him.
Coach Kavanagh says McGregor is not using a boxing coach because they don’t see any value in it.
I don’t know if it’s a gamble or a risk. It’s a calculated risk…I don’t see the sense in bringing in a new person that doesn’t know how [we do things]…The other side to looking at it is that there has been one of the best boxing trainers in the world, and he did train a southpaw for years and years and years…and his result was negative. It didn’t work out. Freddie Roach and Pacquiao. Whatever gameplan [Freddie] had for a southpaw to beat Mayweather didn’t work…Besides a few brief moments, Mayweather was able to handle it. So why would you bring in someone to repeat the same plan, and hope for a different result? We want to do something different altogether. A completely different approach.
Staying on in Dublin after Coldplay’s sold out Croke Park gig on Saturday night, Martin visits Straight Blast Gym on the Naas Road for a private training session with Kavanagh, before downing a pint at McDowell’s pub in Inchicore. Kavanagh Instagrams himself posing with Martin:
Good training today with my boy Chris Martin @coldplay kicks like a donkey but needs bit of work on his uppercuts.
He also shares a Facebook post with many Coldplay-related puns.
In an interview in The 42, Coach Kavanagh says McGregor is not using a specialised boxing coach, and that only he and Owen Roddy are involved in training. Together they will McGregor was on course to have completed the equivalent of 44 full boxing bouts by the time he climbs through the ropes at the T-Mobile Arena.
It’s just me and Owen. We’re the only trainers involved. You know, we thought about getting a boxing trainer involved, but we don’t have five years to prepare for this, we had – I don’t know – 11, 12 weeks. So if we brought someone else in, there’s the whole thing of trying to fit them into the way we do things. And at this stage, Conor’s not learning how to jab. He knows how to throw a jab. We kicked the idea around, and we decided, ‘You know what? We’ve gotten this far together, we seem to have a formula that works, let’s keep going with what we have.
In an interview with The 42, Kavanagh says McGregor was upset about not adding Dublin to the world promo tour.
[Wembley is not close to Ireland!] It’s not. I don’t know why it’s not coming to Dublin. If I say the Americans are idiots, I can see the headline! But it was very, very short-sighted. And it’s typical of American promotions, in my opinion. It’s like the UFC, when you go to Sweden and you do the walk-out time to suit people on the west coast of America. It’s ridiculous! If [Alexander] Gustafsson is fighting in Sweden, he should be walking out at 9:30pm Swedish time. And I see this as being that same short-sightedness, on behalf of some Americans… I’ll tone it down a bit!..You know, it’s a case of, ‘Where’s Ireland? Ah, that’s the UK, isn’t it? Let’s stick it in London’. And we were like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!’ They just saw it as a bigger audience. What’s Dublin got, 1.2 million people? And London has, what, 10 million? But who cares? Wherever you put it – let’s say they put it in a 10,000 stadium – okay, well that’s 10,000 people in London, but it would have been 10,000 people in Dublin. You would have easily filled the 3Arena, and then everybody in London would tune in anyway and watch it on Youtube. Absolute short-sightedness. They just think Ireland, UK, same thing. ‘Ah, it’s Europe’. It really bugged me, and I know Conor wasn’t over the moon about it either.
I think 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 would like to see both Taylor and Conlan on the undercard of McGregor-Mayweather.
I’ve seen a lot of speculation and I think it would be crazy of the promoters not to put on the likes of Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan…That just seems like a no brainer to me. Why wouldn’t you have a big America vs Ireland? It would generate such interest.
Coach Kavanagh says he is confident that McGregor will return to MMA after his fight with Floyd Mayweather.
I would say the same thing about him taking this fight. It’s not money that’s motivating him any more. He could very easily make similar money from doing some movies or some endorsements. It’s the challenge. That’s why he’s in the gym laughing every day. If he left the gym now and stopped fighting, what would he do with his free time? You can only sit in one car at a time, you can only have one meal at a time. Eventually you want to do something that’s enjoyable to you, and that would be Conor drifting back into the gym…The motivation for this fight was not money — although it’s quite nice to be well paid for what you do — it was the challenge. And to be told again that it is impossible to do what he’s clearly about to do.. Money will not be the reason he will not do MMA again. He’s said very clearly to me ‘Get ready, we’ll be back in the cage in December’.
On The MMA Hour, Coach Kavanagh says McGregor’s training is proceeding well.
We have two more weeks in Ireland, then the guys will head to Las Vegas. We’ll then have six week in Vegas before the fight, but I watched the session today and said we would be ready in three weeks…We’ve always done best when everybody is just mocking the idea of an unknown Dublin guy saying he’s going to take on the whole UFC roster and win the belt. Those challenges seem to bind us even closer than we already are. I’m really seeing that spirit lit up in the team. It’s always there, but for whatever reason, because we’re being laughed at, because we’re being mocked, it’s making us even stronger.
In an article for The42, Coach Kavanagh gives his thoughts on the McGregor-Mayweather fight.
On one of my first trips to Las Vegas with Conor McGregor, probably back in 2014, I recall him mentioning the possibility of a fight against Floyd Mayweather. I stopped doubting him a long time ago at this stage, but I remember at the time laughing it off as nothing more than a novel idea that could never possibly become a reality. Now here we are and it’s just over nine weeks away…We’re in the midst of three good weeks of training here in Ireland, before departing for Las Vegas in mid-July. I believe there will be quite a large media world tour squeezed in there as well.
He talks about the mural:
I wanted to put something suitable on the wall because Conor is a big believer in visualisation and manifesting what you can conceive into reality. That’s the shot we believe will win the fight for Conor and it’s now there for us to see whenever we train.
Mayweather has been in the boxing world for his entire career and everyone he’s faced has moved in a certain way that he’s pre-conditioned to handle. Now he’s going up against a guy who doesn’t follow any set patterns, who can deploy a variety of different styles of fighting and is not one bit intimidated. Conor is — as we all are here — 100% confident in victory. That kind of person is very difficult to deal with…We’re not going over to Las Vegas to make up the numbers on 26 August. When this contest takes place, we’ll be 100% ready — physically and mentally — and nothing other than victory will be acceptable. We’re looking forward to shocking the world — again.
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.
Previously unreleased footage of McGregor entering the arena before his March 2016 UFC 196 loss to Nate Diaz is released. As McGregor heads for the octagon, draped in the Irish tricolour, to the sounds of Sinéad O’Connor’s Foggy Dew, he says:
Sing to me Sinéad. Sing me into war.
Coach Kavanagh issues encouragement to his fighter before the walk is made.
He shouldn’t have asked for it. Now he’s gonna get it.
McGregor lost to a rear naked chokehold towards the end of the second round.
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.
Audio recordings from the corners of the McGregor-Aldo fight at UFC 194 are released, showing the contrasting attitudes of the fighters. While the Brazilian’s corner repeatedly tells Aldo to calm down, the fighter says:
Stay calm, go calm. You are the champion. That is you.
As Aldo enters the octagon, an Irish voice that is likely to be Coach Kavanagh says:
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, 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 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, 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 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.
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.