Paschal Collins, the brother of famed Irish boxer Steve Collins, gave an almost prophetic interview where he predicted Conor McGregor’s successes in America and gave some very interesting insights into his skill as a boxer.
Conor McGregor’s ascent to the very peak of the MMA game more than likely came as no surprise to him, given his incredible self-belief and devotion but for us – the general public – what he has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time has been pretty astounding.
Recording breaking pay-per-views, thunderous knockouts and fiercely devoted fans aplenty have followed McGregor’s rise to the top, but a 2013 interview with his former-boxing coach Paschal Collins proves that the current UFC lightweight champion’s successes came as no shock to those who knew exactly what he was capable of all along.
The following interview – one done with Peter Carroll of SevereMMA – shows Collins predicting the imminent McGregor-explosion that would dominate the sport for years to come but an even more interesting takeaway from the four-year-old piece is the insight we gain into Conor’s skill as a boxer and how even back then, his unorthodox style made him a tricky customer for whoever it was he sparred with.
The interview – dated at the August 15, 2013 – was released just two days before Conor made his second UFC appearance against Max Holloway in Boston, which is pretty crazy when you consider he wasn’t even close to being a ranked-fighter, a PPV draw or main-card material at that point.
“Honestly, I think he will be a phenomenon in Boston. He’s an aggressive fighter, he’s great with his hands and he’s quick with his tongue too – he’s everything that the Americans think an Irishman should be.”
“I was just looking at him the last time he was down here and his eyes were dancing around in his head – he’s a bit of a mad man and I suppose you have to be in the fight game.”
“He’s just got that star quality, it’s clear for everyone to see and he deserves it. He works hard, he fights hard and I wish him all the best on Saturday.”
Of course, Max Holloway was defeated with relative ease by the injured McGregor – who unfortunately tore his ACL midway through the fight – but the really intriguing section of the same interview came when Collins described the formidable boxing talents of the ‘Notorious One’ and how his strange and unorthodox style made him difficult to read.
“Conor already had a pedigree in boxing from his early days in Crumlin when he came up to us. It was really his first martial art. It’s been a while since he has been down with us. He was just about to head off to Sweden before I saw him last time, but I’ve always been very impressed by what he can bring to the table.”
“The first time he came up to us was about two years ago, but his development in that period has been unbelievable. His approach is second to none, he’s confident and he has natural power and ability – and that’s priceless in this game.”
“What we can never quite believe is the amount of work he puts in. A lot of times he’d be down to us in the afternoon and he would’ve already been grappling for the whole morning. He comes down here and he can hold his own with world champions like Spike and Stephen, he’s a very capable boxer.”
“With the amount of training in the different martial arts he does, he’s made himself an even trickier opponent for lads that have just trained boxing their whole lives. I won’t name names but, the last time he was up here a very good boxer of ours couldn’t make head nor tail of what Conor was doing.”
“He has what appears like a kind of chopping movement when he strikes and he doesn’t use a traditional stance, so this guy just couldn’t time him at all.”
Maybe not conclusive proof that Conor McGregor has a shot when he steps in to face Floyd Mayweather in August but still, with many pointing to the differences between MMA and boxing as McGregor’s biggest weakness, is there a chance that the same differences could play into his favour?
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena