John Kavanagh has revealed that Conor McGregor’s comprehensive loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in their UFC 229 lightweight title clash, could have be down to their camp preparations in the build up to the fight. Speaking on the JRE MMA show with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, the long-term coach of McGregor believes that a more offensive approach in their rematch will be the key to overturning the result, if and when the pair meet again in the octagon.
Billed as the biggest fight in UFC history, McGregor made a disappointing return to the octagon after a two-year absence, when he was forced to tap out halfway through round four. The much anticipated clash between two fighters that have contrasting styles was always going to be about which one of them could dictate the fight to their strengths.
A striking specialist who needs to spend most of the time on his feet looking for the early knock-out, against a wrestler who prefers to slowly suck the life out of his opponents on the floor.
As it turned out, it was the wrestler that prevailed, and to such an extent that even McGregor’s coach has come out and admitted that the fight was potentially lost in the way they prepared.
Too much focus on defense
Kavanagh openly admitted in a frank interview with Rogan, that perhaps they were too defensively minded in their preparations and that in a rematch they would look to work on more offensive techniques.
“From a strategy point of view, my number one [thing to change]: to think more offensively,” Kavanagh said. “We definitely had opportunities to land shots, and when Conor lands shots … it doesn’t take him a whole lot of shots. He rarely misses, even if you look at strikes that didn’t land, those strikes were for a reason. They were to see which way he holds his hands. You look at Anderson Silva back in the day, and I think they have a similar style of approach.
“But this one, we just didn’t seem to be landing, and when I look back at the training camp, we did spend most of our time with a defensive mindset. I think that’s a mistake.”
JRE MMA Show #44 with John Kavanagh & George Lockhart
Kavanagh went on to say that he also felt the normally crisp and attacking fluidity to McGregor’s game wasn’t on show during the fight, despite attempts to keep things as close to a fight night simulation as possible during camp.
“I do think round three showed promise,” Kavanagh said. “Like I said, I would have liked to have changed things up a little bit, offer up a more offensive mindset. I think defensively we did quite well, but offensively we weren’t really where we usually are.
“Right when the fight was over, I was kind of going into this not to lose but not to win. [McGregor’s] shots weren’t as crisp as they normally are. He had opportunities to hit him in the third round and he just. it seemed to be the range. Something was off.”
What next for McGregor
Rogan and Kavanagh also went on to discuss what they feel will be the next move for McGregor. The Irishman’s coach confirming that Dana White’s comments about McGregor having been on the phone asking for a rematch barely hours after the fight were true.
Despite all of this, there is still an investigation going on by the Nevada State Athletic Commission surrounding the after fight chaos, which could lead to Khabib being fined a large sum of his fight wage and could also see him serve a suspension of around six months.
All of this needs to be settle first with UFC President Dana White also needing to see if Tony Ferguson finally gets his shot at the Russian, despite a rematch being the big money earner for all involved.
Read our thoughts on who McGregor should take on next here.