The Notorious put on a show for the media, but how much can we take from it?
A few weeks back, Conor McGregor, draped in a freshly deliver Donatello Versace robe, emerged from the bowels of the UFC’s performance institute for an open workout with the media.
These type of events are usually a case of cloak and dagger. You want to show off some attributes, without giving away too much of your game-plan.
You want to look sharp, yet lull your opponent into a false sense of security, if at all possible. Gleaning meaningful information from such practices can be tough but let’s give it a go.
1. Hand speed difference
McGregor basically went for 12 rounds on the bags for his media workout. During the rounds, he displayed a steady work rate and threw a consistent stream of reportedly 3235 punches. His hand speed would not be classed as blistering over the course of the 12 rounds but then, as he has said in the past, “precision beats power and timing beats speed”.
Floyd Mayweather on the other hand has looked to show off his lightning hands at any available opportunity, in front of the camera. As one would expect, the life-long boxer should have the quicker release with his punches. McGregor has made his living in MMA off a crisp counter punching game though. He will certainly have to be at his most precise if he wants to best the elusive Mayweather.
2. Use of Bolo punches
In MMA circles, The Notorious’ diverse striking arsenal is widely lauded. His innovative use of angles and attacks from awkward ranges makes him a difficult puzzle to solve. A favourite shot of his to throw tends to be the bolo punch (a wide, raking uppercut that mimics the action of cutting sugar cane).
Going back to McGregor’s first fight in the UFC, against Marcus Brimage, the implementation of bolo punches put paid to his opponent in jig time.
In his open workout, McGregor threw this wide raking uppercut several times. With his long reach, McGregor can often throw this from outside conventional range and not worry too much about the usual counter; a check hook.
However, in Floyd Mayweather, McGregor is meeting one of the finest practitioners of that very counter. While the Crumlin man will hold a reach advantage, he will need to be alive to the threat posed by Floyd’s counter check hook. Just ask Ricky Hatton.
3. Wide hooks
The effectiveness of wide hooks to the body from the long arms of The Notorious could be huge. During his workout, he often favoured the wide hooks, especially on the heavy bags.
In a fight with an opponent the wrong side of 40, one would have to think that attacking their conditioning should play a huge role. ‘Money’ is well accustomed to going 12 rounds at a high pace. In order to quell his offence, a few well placed body shots will be key.
4. Unusual entries at the beginning of the rounds
John Kavanagh and McGregor himself have previously discussed the fact that they will look to implement elements of MMA into their game-plan, in order to unsettle Floyd Mayweather. While outright kicking and grappling will not be allowed (and could incur legal action) maybe the actions can be mimicked to their favour.
When beginning his rounds during the open workout, McGregor often approached the bag mimicking a spinning kick or flying knee (as can be seen in the video below).
While he may not be able to kick Mayweather, McGregor may have found a way to put fear into the boxer’s mind and gain a mental advantage, through his mixed martial arts pedigree.
If these unique entries are allowed, then Conor may have found a way to grab control at the beginning of each round, at least.
5. Switching stances
From watching the open workout, one would assume that the UFC lightweight champion intends to switch stances often. He regularly switches between southpaw and orthodox during his 12 rounds and looks comfortable throwing from either stance.
It seems Floyd Mayweather has already predicted this part of his plan. During his media workout, ‘Money’ said as much.
“He’s going to come out, and he’s going to keep switching. He’s going to keep switching”.
There has been much talk surrounding the fact that Mayweather tends to struggle with southpaws. Switching stances regularly could temporarily remove one of McGregor’s biggest advantages.
The Dubliner has always been fond of working different angles and throwing different looks though. Just look at his last fight with Eddie Alvarez. McGregor hovered at the edge of Alvarez’s range and showed him several different looks and angles, while landing freely.
For some, it may appear that he is hindering himself by adopting an orthodox stance. But, ‘The Notorious’ has always been open to switching his stance and has still always managed to land. Whether he’ll still manage this with Mayweather remains to be seen.
While Conor McGregor and his team most likely didn’t want to give up the element of surprise that they still possess in a media workout, their are some hints cropping up as to how The Notorious may look to approach this fight. Check out the 12 rounds below: