John Kavanagh is in Australia at the moment doing a series of MMA talks for fans and practitioners down under, and while Conor McGregor has been doing similar in Liverpool recently, it was a chance for the head coach of SBG to entertain the crowd.
And that's exactly what he did. In a talk at Sydney’s Star Casino last weekend that was transcribed by news.com.au the questions regarding the last man to defeat Conor drew more interesting responses to those regarding Floyd Mayweather.
It's very clear that the team at SBG are preparing for a boxing match with Floyd, and Kavanagh expressed that money is not the motivating factor for his fighter. Instead, it is the biggest challenge that can be found, and that is what brought about the rematch with Nate Diaz when many expected Conor to defend his belt or fight at lightweight.
Kavanagh expressed his belief that Khabib Nurmagomedgov would be a better match for Gunnar Nelson at welterweight than McGregor, and claimed that neither the Russian or Tony Ferguson presented a particularly exciting challenge for his fighter, and then made an hilarious comparison between Nate Diaz and Homer Simpson in the boxing episode of The Simpsons.
Too many kebabs for Khabib ... I had picked Khabib to win that. I thought he would be in a few difficult situations for the first round or two and then he’d wear down Tony as he does to all his opponents. It will sound cocky but I genuinely don’t see a massive challenge in either of them. If you look at their last couple of fights — Khabib got badly rocked by (Michael) Johnson and he really struggles to make that weight. I think a great fight for Khabib would be Gunnar Nelson (at welterweight) this summer. Khabib actually weighs more than Gunnar outside of fighting. I’ve heard he weighs 90kg. Gunni is 81kg. And Tony, he fought that guy (Lando Vannata) who just came into the UFC and got punched around for a couple of rounds and then fair play to Tony, he’s tough as nails, he took a lot of punishment and then went on to win. But you can’t do that with Conor. In round one, if you eat four or five solid shots, unless you’re Nate Diaz, you are going to be unconscious. He’s a one-off. That’s just Homer Simpson there. He’s a one-off.
Comfortably one of the best episodes ever.
That wasn't it for comparisons between Diaz and a fictional character, as we learned what Stockon's finest would have as a special power in the Marvel Universe.
Nate, if he was a Marvel character, his special power is he just has a concrete head. I’ve seen Conor spar big strong heavyweights in the gym and put them on one knee. And with Nate he had all these clean connections in the first round and Nate just walked forward, walked forward.
We would pay to see that movie, anyway.
Kavanagh then told of a phone call between McGregor and Dana White after the Dubliner's loss to Diaz that summed up how badly Conor wanted the rematch and wouldn't consider any alternative despite the wishes of his coach:
We said to Conor afterwards, ‘what do you want to do next? They’ll still give you the lightweight title if you want’. And he was like ‘no, I want to fight Nate’. And in my head I’m thinking ‘why do you want to fight him again? He is terrifying’. When I was in the corner and you just see Nate plodding forward. And Conor has really nice technique on his hands and clearly has a very hard punch and Nate could just take them and be like ‘what bitch?’ So we knew going into the rematch it’s probably going to go 25 minutes. Because he has very good jiu jitsu, you can’t knock him out ... so that was one of the moments I just had to tip my hat to him (McGregor), what courage and bravery that took ... I was there the following day and he was screaming on the phone to Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta) ‘you put that f***ing fight together’ and he was not letting go of it. And I was thinking ‘dude, let’s f***ing fight Alvarez, have you seen him? He’s not that scary’. But he wanted that challenge and he pursued it and he made the changes. The training we did was sickening. All fighters like sparring and all fighters like rolling but making weight and getting that insane level of cardio — that’s the part that’s not as fun. And to be with him during those times and to see what he put himself through ... and then to go and face someone that to me is like in a comic is his nemesis.
You can read the Q & A session in full over on news.com.au, and it sounds like a cracking night as Kavanagh's sense of humour shone through.
While we wait for news on McGregor and Gunnar Nelson's next fight, as well as the MMA debut of Dillon Danis, Kavanagh has another trip to Madison Square Garden to look forward to as James Gallagher takes on Chinzo Machida in June.