Appearances for John Kavanagh on the MMA Hour usually begin with jokes about the SBG coach wearing his bathrobe during the interview.
There was none of that when Kavanagh spoke to Ariel Helwani on Monday - the conversation was a little more sombre in tone; to be expected in defeat.
Kavanagh does not regret Conor McGregor taking the fighting against Nate Diaz. McGregor's ambition makes him proud.
Absolutely not. I don't think that is what life is for - playing safe and not biting off more than you can chew. If you're not biting off more than you can chew, then you need to chew harder. I'm super-proud of him.
Neither does he believe that the fight being at a catchweight of 165 or even at lightweight would have made a difference to the outcome.
I don’t think the weight made a difference.
If it was 155 it wouldn’t have made a difference. If you’re fighting someone like that and you are inefficient, that’s what the result is going to be, regardless. I don’t think that played a part. Nate was the better guy on the night and he won; congratulations to him and his team.
One thing in particular surprised Kavanagh about the fight. In fact, he admits to being 'taken aback' by how fatigued his fighter looked midway through the second round.
The same-stance and Nate's technical knowledge of protecting himself with his lead shoulder and moving with the shots; that combined with Conor loading up and being a little bit inefficient with his shots made him tired.
I’m with Conor a long, long time, I’ve seen him do an inordinate number of rounds in the gym and I’ve never seen him breathe heavy. I went in and it was clear he was breathing heavy and I was a bit taken aback by that. It was a surprise for me.
Echoing what he said much better, it was a case of being inefficient; a 25-minute fight, going up a weight class you've got to accept that you have to move in such a way that you can keep going for those 25 minutes. That's not what he did.
Post-fight McGregor felt that he over-relied on his left hand, a weapon which has served him well in the past. Kavanagh reiterated this analysis.
A lot of things were working. I did think he was loading up a bit on his left hand. Especially if you’re facing a same-stance fighter; Nate’s kind of good at using the shoulder roll boxers use to defend themselves.
[There were] a lot of the big lefts, he wasn’t catching him flush. They were bouncing off the shoulder or Nate was moving with the shots, so they weren’t having the impact they’d have on an opposite-stance fighter or someone who isn’t as skilled as Nate.
Still, some good shots landed. He did get taken down with a single-leg by Nate but Conor did well and executed a nice sweep; was safe in the guard and almost landed some good shots. All in all, it was a good round. I imagine the judges gave that round to Conor I can't see how it would have gone otherwise.
During the press conference and an interview with Fox Sports after his loss, McGregor admitted to panicking shortly before Diaz choked him into submission.
This panic was perfectly illustrated by McGregor's attempt at a takedown. It was a desperation move from the Dubliner - one which came due to being exhausted.
The cause: Diaz's ability to take a punch and his unwillingness to surrender to the big left bombs McGregor was sending his way.
In between rounds I said: ‘you don’t have to take him out with one shot, no need to load up on the big hand’.
We don’t want to only rely on that. If there’s something to critique and take away from that fight, and Conor immediately said it, it’s that Conor was inefficient with his shots and Nate was efficient.
He blew himself a little bit trying to take his head off with every left hand rather than just landing it. Maybe I could have stolen his own phrase and told him ‘keep it flowy.’ But that’s how it went down.
John Kavanagh's segment begins around the 2.00.00 point below.