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John Kavanagh Reveals Full Extent Of How He Prepared Conor McGregor To Defeat Nate Diaz

John Kavanagh Reveals Full Extent Of How He Prepared Conor McGregor To Defeat Nate Diaz
By John Balfe
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So much of what happens in cage is determined by the hard hours you spend in the gym preparing for it and, for Conor McGregor's training camp to prepare for last month's rematch with Nate Diaz, his coach John Kavanagh ensured that they had the most scientific preparation possible.

Much has been made of the fact that McGregor and Kavanagh essentially tore up the training blueprint they had relied upon for the Dubliner's fight career to date.

Previously McGregor and Kavanagh embraced the 'there is no opponent' mantra, rarely tailoring their fight strategy with any particular opponent in mind - something which McGregor says "came back and bit me in the ass" in the first clash against Diaz.



Specific training partners were brought in to mimic Diaz's style. Rangy Irish amateur boxer Conor Wallace - a southpaw like the Californian - and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Dillon Danis were new additions to the SBG camp to counter specific threats that Diaz poses. Nor did Kavanagh avoid the mental side of the game when devising McGregor's training schedule.

As he explained to Robin Black and David Mullins on their podcast Mentality of Combat Sport, the SBG Ireland head coach attempted to simulate practically every aspect of what McGregor would face on August 20th.

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.

Not only that, Kavanagh also found a sparring partner for McGregor who would mirror the psychological element of the sport as best he could. Where previously McGregor would spar almost exclusively with close friends Artem Lobov and Peter Queally, Kavanagh wanted to maintain a degree of animosity between his student and the people helping him prepare.

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.

So effective was this strategy that when McGregor was in the octagon just prior to his showdown with Diaz, he remarked as to how much it felt like just another day in the gym.


Kavanagh elaborated:

[McGregor] said ‘Yeah, this is exactly what we have done for the last five months. It just feels like gym, it just feels like another training day.’ So, that paid off I feel.

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