Just a couple of weeks before his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202, Conor McGregor posted a picture to Instagram in which he could be seen sitting on a stool between rounds of sparring.
“Round four hundred and twelve,” McGregor wrote alongside the photo. “They’ll study this camp.”
‘The Notorious’ Irishman seemed to have the utmost confidence in his preparation.
Now, with McGregor vs Diaz 2 in the rear-view mirror, more specific details are emerging about what went on in that camp, and it’s easy to understand why the UFC featherweight champion was so self-assured.
Absolutely nothing was left to chance ahead of the revenge mission. Everything was specific, scientific and meticulous to an astounding degree.
We have heard about the changes to McGregor’s conditioning and all-around training routines, about the various sparring partners that were brought in to replicate some of Diaz’s awkward stylistic tendencies and of how the SBG product had prepared himself psychologically for the rigours of a brutal five-round welterweight war.
However, when coach John Kavanagh made an appearance on a recent edition of ‘Mentality of Combat Sport’ with David Mullins and Robin Black, he revealed the most fascinating insight into McGregor’s pre-UFC 202 training regime yet.
Not only did the team utilize training partners capable of mimicking Diaz inside the cage on MMA sparring day, according to Kavanagh, they also attempted to mimic fight day conditions in every other possible way.
“We made sure that we did a lot of very accurate fight simulations,” said the SBG Ireland founder. “On our MMA sparring day, we really treated it the exact same as fight day. What he was going to eat on fight day, how he was going to rest – we mimicked it perfectly. We left the house at the same time he was going to leave the house for fight day.”
“One of the guys that we brought in as a sparring partner, they didn’t hang out together, they didn’t become friends, they didn’t chat to each other. And when they would go into the gym, they would get changed in a different room and they wouldn’t talk to each other until they were actually sparring. And then, as sort of a stroke of luck, this particular guy we got, he actually liked to do some shit-talking.”
“We just tried to replicate what fight day would be like, get our fight simulations as close to reality as possible. Where as in the lead-up the first Nate fight, it was Conor, Artem[Lobov] and Peter Queally, they are three very close friends. They know each other so well and they are getting changed on the mat together and you are putting your hand wraps on and you’re chatting about your day. It’s not the same feeling in your stomach, it’s not the same approach you have on fight day and that can be a bit shocking if you are not doing that.”
The new approach, said Kavanagh, had a somewhat normalising, desensitising effect that lent his fighter a greater sense of calm amidst the chaos of fight night.
“I remember when he walked into the cage on the actual fight night, he walked over to me, and I gave him a little bit of water, and he said ‘Yeah, this is exactly what we have done for the last five months. It just feels like gym, it just feels like another training day.’ So, that paid off I feel.”
You can watch the full interview below….