The phrase ‘nothing was left to chance’ is something of a cliche but it’s becoming more and more apparent with each passing day just how appropriate it is to use that expression when describing Conor McGregor’s preparations ahead of his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202.
By now, almost three months on from McGregor’s redemptive majority decision victory, we all know about the specificity that defined the Irishman’s camp. We are familiar with the various training partners employed by the team to mimic Diaz’s unorthodox stylistic tendencies on the feet and his aggressive jiu-jitsu game on the floor. We have even heard about the lengths that the team went to in order to mimic fight night conditions on sparring days.
We have also heard about the scientific nature of McGregor’s conditioning work. The inclusion of Dr. Julian Dalby, the incorporation of more frequent rest days, the shorter, more focused, more intense bursts of training that replaced the old, less regimented, more draining approach, and the constant monitoring of ‘The Notorious’ one’s heart rate throughout every session.
However, during the first episode of The Elite Edge by Pundit Arena, in association with eir Sport, the featherweight champion’s head coach John Kavanagh revealed new insight into the nature of the camp and just how scientific things actually got.
“I guess most of Conor’s career he has been a sprinter style fighter, maybe 800 metres, and now we were in a 10,000-metre race,” Kavanagh told All-Ireland winning Dublin footballer Philly McMahon inside the octagon at SBG Concorde. “And you can see the build of Nate, he is sort of designed for that medium pace, medium distance. Conor is more short distance, high-pace. And [Nate] just kept walking forward. No matter what you do to him, he just keeps walking forward.”
Faced with a man who possesses the sort of chin, gas tank and physiological make-up that ensures a long, tough night for his opponents, Kavanagh and Co. were forced to examine the most minute details in order to minimize the chance of their fighter once again fading in the wake of the Stockton native’s unrelenting pressure.
“There were some good videos done online comparing [Conor’s] walk-out even,” Kavanagh said. “In the walk-out for the first fight Conor is bouncing, he’s smiling at the camera, he gets into the cage and does his spinning kicks and movement. We started talking about energy as currency, so that was all costing money. So we stripped all of that back.”
“Right from the walk-out you will see, there is no emotion, no excess movement. Even when they both get called in, you know Nate came into the centre, while they were doing the last instructions, and Nate was moving and I’m sure he was expecting the usual. Watch it again, Conor just stands still, doesn’t talk, doesn’t do anything.”
Such was the level of analysis that, by the end of camp, Kavanagh was acutely aware of the difference between a high-kick and a leg-kick in terms of their impact on McGregor’s heartbeat.
Of course, that didn’t stop the attack-minded McGregor occasionally straying from the gameplan, as Kavanagh describes in the snippet below.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) November 5, 2016
Stay tuned to Pundit Arena for more from John Kavanagh and Philly McMahon. The entire interview will soon be available on our Facebook page.
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