John Kavanagh looked remarkably fresh on Monday as he sat down with Joe Rogan to explain the strange happenings at UFC229. In what must have been a tumultuous night for him and the McGregor camp he had the appearance of a guy that was decidedly unaffected by the high drama surrounding the build up and post fight shenanigans.
Whenever I hear John speak I am always struck by how grounded he seems to be. He was not unduly upset by Khabib climbing out of the cage and attacking Dillon Danis for instance.
He allowed the concession that Dillon could be quite the provocateur on social media. He also offered the opinion that he hoped that Khabib would not be too harshly treated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In other words a lot of this shit talk by both camps about each other, is just that shit talk.
What many people may not know about Conor McGregor’s coach is that his martial arts background is almost entirely in Jiu-Jitsu. Indeed as far as i am aware he was Ireland’s first black belt in BJJ. He freely admits that he is a big fan of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s skill and style of fighting. So much for the line of thought that everyone in the McGregor camp detests Khabib and all that he stands for!
Kavanagh laid out the McGregor game-plan in some detail with Rogan and it was fascinating to discover that it was completely different to what 95% of us thought it was going to be.
Kavanagh knew full well that Khabib was going to have success taking the Irishman to the canvas. The main focus for Kavanagh in the first two rounds was twofold:
- Try to engineer that any successful take downs that occur take place close to the fence
- Expend as little energy as possible and sustain as little damage as possible
Kavanagh figured that as the fight progressed Nurmagomedov would find it more difficult to execute the take downs and from there opportunities would open up for McGregor to implement his superior stand up game.
I was completely taken aback that the game-plan was basically a defensive one for the first two rounds. Kavanagh admitted on more than one occasion here that they might have made a mistake on that score, that indeed the game-plan was too defensive. It goes to show though, how highly respected Nurmagomedov was in the McGregor Camp.
I thought Rogan was gentle enough around his questioning of McGregor’s, by now, consistent drop off in energy in big fights. I mean if the fight strategy was to bring Khabib deep into the fight you need to be damn sure that your man has the juice to finish the job when the moment arrives.
The Third round was McGregor’s opportunity on Oct 6 and while he won the round on the judges scorecards, he certainly didn’t have the stamina to execute a finish.
Kavanagh was joined on the show by George Lockhart who is responsible for getting Conor McGregor to the scales at 155. He revealed McGregor started the camp at around the usual 171 mark and that the cut to 155 was not a tough one. George is part of the picture for every McGregor camp and comes in about 6-8 weeks out to makes sure everything is on point with nutrition.
Kavanagh as usual comes across as a fair minded, humble individual. A kinda mixed martial arts geek. The antics of McGregor are certainly not the antics of John Kavanagh. Although he does concede that fighters ‘be themselves’. He wouldn’t see a big difference between the Conor in the press conferences and the Conor in the Gym. He’s a big Personality full stop.
One fascinating little insight he inadvertently dropped was how little he has to do with the choice of McGregor opponents. At this stage of McGregor’s career and fame these decisions seem to be taken in conjunction with McGregor’s agent Audie Attar and Paradigm Sports Management.
Inevitably the questions start to come from Rogan about whats next for Conor McGregor and not surprisingly within minutes of defeat McGregor was screaming for a re-match with Nurmagomedov. He was the very same after he was beaten by Nate Diaz. No surprise there then.
Given the uncertainty of Nurmagomedov’s future as he awaits to see how long of a ban he will receive from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, a re-match may not be possible in the short term.
Kavanagh would like to see that third match up against Nate Diaz. He loves the stylistic challenges that Nate presents him and Kavanagh’s analytical mind is excited by the challenge of designing a plan to overcome him.
Joe Rogan clearly thinks McGregor needs to fight someone like Anthony Pettis, someone that doesn’t necessarily possess the same number of challenges for McGregor as a Diaz or a Nurmagomedov.
My own theory would be that he should drop down to Featherweight for a fight with Max Holloway. With someone like George Lockhart in his corner i’m convinced he can still cut the additional 10 pounds safely. Also with the weigh-ins now taking place a full day before the fight it allows time to get that energy and power back.