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5 Things We Learned From John Kavanagh's Live Studio Chat With Ariel Helwani

5 Things We Learned From John Kavanagh's Live Studio Chat With Ariel Helwani
By Mikey Traynor
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John Kavanagh appearing on The MMA Hour a week before a Conor McGregor fight has become tradition over the years, but for the first time ever we saw the SBG head coach live in studio with Ariel Helwani.

It would have been rather strange for Kavanagh to appear on the show as he normally does via Skype while he had been in New York since last Wednesday, so thankfully there was no scheduling conflict that popped up which would have denied us this interview.

The extremely well dressed Kavanagh answered Helwani's questions in a lengthy interview that was absolutely fascinating for those who are counting down the hours to UFC 205.

Here's what we took away from the chat:

Prior to the Nate Diaz loss, Kavanagh and McGregor realised they had grown apart, and that had to change.

Prompted by an excellent question regarding Conor's handling of the UFC 196 loss, Kavanagh explained that his relationship with Conor grew closer after the event.

The two had gradually drifted apart due to both of their lives changing so much in recent years, and a discussion at a night club saw the two agree to make an effort to get things back to the way things were.

I didn't see it at the time, it was a very gradual separation. There were some times when I was walking out of the gym and he was walking in, I'd just nod at him.

He brought it up.

It was kind of like in a club after a fight, and after a couple of whiskeys and you say, you know, what happened? Let's look back over the last few months, what did we do different?

So what did we do differently for that contest? That was a glaring one. Not as much personal contact.

After agreeing and working out a strategy for the rematch, McGregor and Kavanagh are seemingly stronger than ever.

A 'family first' mentality held since his youth is why Conor McGregor values loyalty above all else.

On the back of that discussion of the two men slowly growing apart, Helwani asked Kavanagh what the root of McGregor's loyalty is.

The UFC featherweight champ is someone who makes no secret of his distain for disloyalty, and never misses a chance to pay tribute to his team that has been with him since day one.


Kavanagh suggested that McGregor's upbringing was why he was so adamant on loyalty in his life and career.

That's an example of his personality, to be around the same people.

You're gonna find it very hard to become Conor's friend, especially now, but even back in the day he had a very small circle of friends, he wasn't big into getting "new" friends. But then when you did become his friend, you were never gonna lose him as a friend.

So I think for a number of reasons it just worked, but probably reason number one is just this fierce family-first, loyalty first, team first mentality.

What was also interesting was Kavanagh's suggestion that when training MMA, it can be difficult to trust those that you do not know. If Conor were to go and train with another gym, something that is commonplace for many if not most other UFC fighters, then you never know what motivations they may or may not have.

Both Kavanagh and McGregor laughed at Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg's UFC 202 commentary after watching the fight back.


Something we have discussed on the Balls.ie MMA Show before, and have heard fighters talk about in other situatione, Rogan and Goldie can sometimes let their excitement get the best of them.


During McGregor vs Diaz II, the commentators were extremely animated anytime Diaz connected, while there seemed to be less of a fuss about McGregor's shots despite the effect that had on Diaz.

Kavanagh and McGregor noticed this themselves.

It's kind of funny looking at some of the flurries on the fence, Rogan and Goldberg are losing their heads like, but if you turn down the sound they're [Diaz's shots] mostly rolled.

We sort of found it funny, Conor lands a clean shot that buckles the legs and it's like "Oh, he tagged him."

Like, Really? You're having a heart attack over some shots that were rolled, and that's tagged?

He's got a point.

Any 'beef' with Eddie Alvarez's coach Mark Henry was squashed at the UFC 205 press conference.

We've heard a lot of personal comments about John Kavanagh from Mark Henry, but seemingly Kavanagh's attitude towards these types of stories is so relaxed that it is impossible to upset him.

Kavanagh bumped into Mark Henry after the UFC 205 press conference, and immediately shook hands with his opposing coach before exchanging pleasantries and suggesting that what was said before didn't matter.

We actually went past each other in a revolving door, so he was going in and I was going out, and I was stepping into the car to head back into the airport.

I guess the two of them copped it and they both came out, I turned around and he just came over and put his hand out, and he started to go kind of "Uh.." And I just said, forget about it, shake my hand.

He said 'I just want to wish the best to you and your team, and I hope Conor has a good training camp.' So I repeated the same back, shook his hand, got in the car, and then flew home.

John Kavanagh doesn't really do drama, we knew that already but this is the best example you will find.

UFC 205 itself was confirmed at a ridiculously late stage

There was a lot of confusion around the confirmation of UFC 205, and while the MMA world was crying out for this fight to be announced as the headliner for the UFC's historic card in NYC, we were not sure if it could happen for various reasons.

But it did, and it went to the wire. Kavanagh and McGregor received the go-ahead to fly out for the UFC 205 press conference hours before they had to fly out.

It was back and forward for weeks and then the last couple of days it was on, it was off, it was on, it was off. I went to bed that night around 1 am. I knew I was going to hear then whether we were flying the next morning. I didn't hear anything. I presumed it was off.

About an hour later I just sleepily checked my phone and it said, "Airport 10 am." So, it was on...

You wouldn't want to have much planned as the biggest draw in the UFC, as clearly you'll need to be available at short notice.

It's crazy to think of how late the headliner of such a big event was confirmed.

The whole interview is well worth a watch, and you can do so in full below:


SEE ALSO: Eddie Alvarez Claims McGregor 'Getting Desperate' In First UFC 205 Embedded

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