Coach Owen Roddy brought his 14 years of work with Conor McGregor to the table in an in-depth analysis of his supreme skills as a fighter.
There might still be those who believe he will never come back but right now, it does appear as though we will know a lot more about Conor McGregor’s fighting future directly after all is said and done at UFC 223 on April 7.
With Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov set to contest the undisputed title at 155lbs, many are expecting Conor’s next fight to be against the winner of that matchup and with his teammate Artem Lobov set to fight Alex Caceres on the night’s undercard, we could well see the Irishman in attendance.
His coach Owen Roddy spoke to The Sun about his star-pupil’s pedigree as a mixed martial artist and how despite being pegged by some as the underdog in a matchup with both Khabib or Ferguson, he possesses all of the tool necessary to make it an early night for either man.
“Conor has a lot of amazing natural attributes and his reach is certainly one those. He has really long arms and he uses them very well to keep people at bay. He also has very fast twitch fibres in his muscles.
“Conor has a unique style. A wide stance is not common in boxing but it is in combat. When he spars in straight boxing he will spar like that and has success. Conor’s ability to fight at different weights is down to professionalism. People do not see that side of Conor, he is meticulous on everything he does. Everything is measured from weeks out and, importantly, it is always a gradual cut. He has always made the weight.
“He is a big lad and it is difficult for him to make feather weight but he knows what he has to do and he does it. Conor has unbelievable power. When I used to spar with him, almost ever punch felt like it was from a man twice his size. I always told him he could fight at middleweight because his strikes have so much power and you do not see the shots coming.
“He stands there and lures you in and, before you know it, you are on your back. I have been working with him for 14 years and it is hard to know how he generates so much power. He has very big hands, too. It’s like being hit with a sledgehammer.”
McGregor’s stamina has often been pointed to as a potential Achilles’ heel as a fighter. His explosive, darting movement that sees him generate such tremendous power puts quite a drain on his stamina, and although he seemed to remedy that problem to a certain extent in his five-round war with Nate Diaz at UFC 202, a lot of people still think it’s a factor.
Roddy, on the other hand, believes that he has ironed that crease out of his game in the time since.
“Conor is like a sprinter. He is fast and explosive, but it is hard to maintain that for five rounds. Conor often doesn’t need to last that long because of his habit of putting people to sleep. When you fight someone who has the ability to absorb all that punishment – and come back – like the Diaz brothers, it is tough. But Conor has proved he has the cardio.
“With the boxing match with Floyd, we had barely 12 weeks to train for something new. It is a completely different sport that takes people years to learn. If we had more time it could have been different.”
Three losses are the only blemishes on Conor’s pro-record to date and while his gastank caused him succumb to the aforementioned Diaz by way of submission at UFC 196, for the most part, when McGregor is on the feet, he barely gets hit.
“Conor is very good at getting out of the way of shots. I can count on one hand how many times I have landed clean on him. I have watched thousands of rounds of his and people don’t touch him. He deflects shots too and never seems to take them square-on.
“He is also a tough lad and can take punishment. The chin is granite and you’d be lucky to touch it. Conor is honest with himself and with other people. If he thinks you have a paper chin, then you’ll know.”
Roddy’s appreciation for his man’s skillset is clear, but, of course, it is the mental strength of the ‘Notorious’ one that could well be his greatest asset and after knowing him for over a decade, his coach is more than aware of the role that his mentality plays in his success.
“He always says ‘people don’t like the truth’ and that is the case. He examines people, does his research and then let’s them have it. People get riled when you talk about their flaws. He is also so quick-witted. He is a lad from council-house Dublin and there was a lot of banter growing up.
“If you say something to him you better be ready to be swallowed up. He embarrasses people and that gets reactions. Before some fights he will get aggressive in his opponent’s face and they will crumble so he has the fight won before he starts. Or they will get angry and over-commit on shots that lets him crack the left.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena