In a rather bizarre interview with The Mac Life, Conor McGregor’s long time head coach John Kavanagh made some… interesting revelations about how his fighter has been preparing for his fight against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. Essentially it seems as though McGregor is running his own camp and dictating to his coaches what he will and won’t do, what he should and shouldn’t be doing. Not exactly an orthodox approach.
It’s almost difficult to quite find the words to explain how worrying and bizarre this situation is. First off, I’ll leave a transcript of what Kavanagh actually said…
“With Conor’s fighting IQ, with Conor’s understanding of the game, really, this training camp is about all of us getting out of his way. Provide him an environment where he gets different looks, different feels, and support him. Where he wants the training camp to go, with intensities, and listening to him – where he has days where he has days where he wants to push hard, and days where he wants to slow down.
“It’s not so much about us coaches sitting down to game plan and then filling Conor in. Conor knows more about fighting than the rest of us put together.”
Let’s… break this down a little.
The first sentence seems a logical place to start, especially as it’s an immediate cause for concern. It seems as though either Kavanagh, McGregor, or both feel as though he has learned as much as he can from his coaches as they’re… staying out of his way during camp? Are they just glorified cheerleaders then? Watching from the sidelines and telling him how good he looks? They’re providing an environment that allows McGregor to dictate where he wants his camp to go, when he wants to train hard and when he wants to rest…
I mean, I’m no expert, but I’m fairly sure the head coach is supposed to tell the fighter when he is training, when he isn’t, when he pushes and when he can take it lighter. What is the purpose of Coach Kavanagh if McGregor is literally overruling him?
The worst part of this entire quote is the fact that Kavanaugh either admits to McGregor knowing more about fighting than his entire coaching team, or is just continuing to embellish his fighter’s slightly delusional mindset. If a fighter knows more about the game than his entire coaching team put together, he should seriously consider moving camps. At no point should one fighter know more about the craft than his entire team, if that’s the case, he is learning nothing from them. They’re essentially just there to make sure that he gets to the fight healthy… however seeing as McGregor is dictating when he is working out and what he is doing… they aren’t even doing that.
Nothing but credit can be given to these two men for how far they have come in the sport and what they have accomplished together however looking at this relationship as it sits currently, it seems as though Kavanagh has lost all control over his fighter.
It is well documented at this point that McGregor didn’t train anywhere near hard enough for his fight with Khabib, distracted by other ventures, however the inability to stay on task falls on the shoulders of his coach. It’s also well known by now that McGregor disregarded the gameplan and all instructions that his coaches gave to him during the bout with Khabib, for the most part. Again, demonstrating a low level of control over the fighter from the coaching team.
This interview seems to be the final nail in the coffin, at this point Kavanagh is there simply because he always has been and McGregor needs somewhere to train. It almost feels like his team could not turn up to corner his fight and he would still fight exactly the same way he would if they were there.