We have no doubt that a few rogue detractors remain out there on the MMA landscape, but it seems that, for the most part, Conor McGregor’s performance against Eddie Alvarez on Saturday night has silenced his critics and probably even turned some into admirers.
It was that kind of a display.
In reality, there is probably no such thing as a flawless performance, but it’s hard to stop that word from slipping out of one’s mouth or leaking onto the page. Watching on TV or, if you were lucky enough, from a seat inside New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, it was a truly remarkable sight.
However, looking on from an even better vantage point, and with a base of knowledge that allowed him to appreciate McGregor’s showing with a much greater depth than most, was Mark Henry. He may not have been able to take much joy from what unfolded before his eyes at UFC 205, being the head coach of the Irishman’s unfortunate foe, but Henry couldn’t help marvelling at the talent’s of ‘The Notorious’ one.
During a recent appearance on SiriusXM Rush, Henry was asked at what point he knew that the tide was starting to turn against his charge. His answer was simple.
“When Conor hit him the first time,” said the trainer, before proceeding to wax lyrical about McGregor’s technique, timing, power and fighting I.Q.
“You cannot teach someone how to swing like that. It takes hips, it takes a certain shoulder, it takes a flick of the wrist.”
“It’s so many tiny mechanics. Like what it takes to make an eyeball work is the same thing that it takes to make the perfect swing. You know? Like Babe Ruth. I just compare Conor, his swing, to Babe Ruth, man. I always watch tape of it but to be that close and watch it, was a whole other thing. It comes along once in a lifetime or once every 100 years or what not. God has just blessed him with a swing that I will probably never see again.
“Also, too, his range – he knows his range so well. A punch could be an inch, less than that, it could a centimetre from his face and he won’t put his head back at times because he knows it’s not going to hit. So, you know, a lot of the time, he will slide back his head and come, but if you don’t slide back your head [the counter] comes back even faster.
“I could even go into it further. Like that last four-punch combination he threw, to know where [Eddie’s head] was going to be on all four moves. He knows way ahead of time where you are going to be. There are so many different things that go into what he is doing. His eyes are so focused, or just knowing where someone’s head is going to be, or tricking somebody by setting it up with his feet.”
Henry may have gone slightly overboard however, with another statement that he made about the new two-weight UFC champion.
“Before this fight, I would highly doubt him fighting Mayweather. But, man, I think this dude could take out Mayweather,” said the fawning Henry. “I don’t know about if it went far, but I could easily see him knocking anybody out.”
It’s interesting to hear Henry talk like this about McGregor, as at one point he was among the SBG fighter’s most ardent critics. Yes, in the lead-up to UFC 205 the New Jersey-based coach had changed his tune and was frequently complimentary toward the Dubliner, but the praise offered here is on another level completely.