In a recent interview with entertainment news outlet TMZ, Urijah Faber spoke about how he had urged Conor McGregor to plug the gaps in his ground game and identified the Irishman’s failure to do so as the thing that precipitated his UFC 196 downfall.
“He didn’t even fight the hands[to protect against the fight-ending choke], man,” said the former WEC featherweight champion. “I tried to tell Conor, ‘you got to work on your jits[jiu-jitsu]'”.
Faber’s assessment of the situation was in stark contrast to that of another noted grappler, however.
Only a couple of days after McGregor’s shock defeat, Eddie Bravo was a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience and the submission savant was far less critical of “The Notorious” one’s abilities. The 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu founder suggested that Conor’s detractors consider the context in which the submission took place, reminding Rogan’s audience that the SBG product had been softened-up by Nate Diaz’s boxing prior to the submission.
“His is good,” started Bravo. “He’s come to my school. [In the fight] he was already hurt and got mounted. Even if he wasn’t hurt – I get mounted by my purple belts – there’s some shit going on. When you add in punches and all the hype…. just because he got mounted and had his back taken does not mean Conor’s jiu-jitsu sucks”.
“Don’t get it twisted, he was a bit hurt, and Nate Diaz is really good! Nate could probably do it to me – doesn’t mean that I suck”.
During a recent appearance on MMAJunkie Radio, Bravo reiterated these points and used the example of McGregor’s 1st round sweep of Diaz to illustrate that the still reigning featherweight king has some grappling guile.
“People forget in that first round, Nate Diaz got swept by Conor McGregor. That was a high-level sweep. To sweep someone like Nate Diaz, who is long and lanky and a black belt, you’ve got to have some skill. People are coming down hard on Conor McGregor’s jiu-jitsu”.
If McGregor does decide that he needs to add new elements to his oft-disparaged grappling skill-set however, it seems that Bravo is more than willing to help.
“We have hung out a couple times, and he’s been to my school once, but we’ve never talked about working together,” said Bravo. “I would definitely work with him”.
The California coach seemed wary though, and added that he would not want to interfere with McGregor’s current set-up, step on anyone’s toes or risk changing the atmosphere in camp.
“(But) these fighters, at this level, they’ve got their team – their wrestling coach, their striking coach, their jiu-jitsu coach. If someone tries to learn stuff from another coach, the team kind of gets hurt and it causes some tension and peoples’ feelings get hurt. Sometimes, it’s better for the camp to keep it nice and tranquil to not mess around and work with other trainers”.
“I don’t want to cause any problems and make a public offer to work with Conor or anything”.
“But I would if he came to me – I definitely would”.
Bravo also made it clear that enlisting his services would not be a quick fix.
“But my style isn’t something you can come by for a couple of days and pick up some stuff. My style, you’ve got to make it a lifestyle to make it work. It takes a while”.
Considering McGregor’s natural curiosity, willingness to learn, and openness to new ideas it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to hear he was working with Bravo. After all, his recruitment of Ido Portal, now a regular presence during the latter stages of his fight preparations, came shortly after the ‘movement coach’ had talked about a desire to train with McGregor in a YouTube interview.
Watch this space.