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Spark+slag / november 2016
Alison Smith, Contributor

McGregor Coach Preps Champ for History Books

Conor McGregor will make history on November 12, 2016 – win or lose – with his coach of 10 years, John Kavanagh, by his side.

The Notorious  is slated to match up against Eddie Alvarez in a title fight for the lightweight belt as the main event in UFC 205, the first-ever UFC event hosted in New York, after a longtime ban on professional MMA fighting in the city was lifted in early 2016. conor-mcgregor-205-coach-4

But McGregor’s camp is looking to take the history making even further.

If he wins, McGregor, who is the UFC featherweight champion, will be the first fighter ever to simultaneously hold two titles in different weight classes.

McGregor’s coach says his fighter is more than ready to put those two belts over his shoulders.

Win or Lose

It hasn’t been a road paved with gold leading up to UFC 205 for McGregor. He’s dealt with losses and injuries that could have easily derailed his pro MMA aspirations. Kavanagh attributes McGregor’s laser focus to increasing maturity, and the realization that every situation – win or lose – presents an opportunity to learn and grow.

“Winning and losing are really two sides of the same coin,” Kavanagh says. 

Winning and losing are really two sides of the same coin.

“The coin is competition. If you’re competitive, it’s going to land on one side or the other either way. There is no one who doesn’t ever get both sides of the coin.” 

conor-mcgregor-205-coach-7McGregor knows that first hand.

Most recently, it was his first UFC defeat in his welterweight debut versus Nate Diaz. But Kavanagh says losing can be an important part of the journey.

“It’s a very valuable lesson to learn,” he says. “How to channel the energy from a loss and turn it into something positive so that you can improve for the future.”

And McGregor did learn from that loss.

He changed up his training routine and went on to beat Diaz via majority decision in their July 2016 rematch.

Making Self-Improvement the Focus

Through trial and error, Kavanagh and McGregor have learned what it takes for them to get to the top. Consistency and self-improvement are big themes in the Irish camp.

“I’ve always found the best results when you just train to improve yourself, Kavanagh says. 

“You can never predict what the opponent’s going to do, but we can predict how we’re going to move. We put a lot of effort into improving our own areas of weakness, then come what may when the opponent arrives.” conor-mcgregor-205-coach-3

On that day, Kavanagh says, “We just want to be the best version of ourselves.”

And according to Kavanagh, McGregor is at his best heading into UFC 205.

UFC fans will remember that McGregor was set to face Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight championship in March in an attempt to become the UFC’s first dual-weight champion, but Dos Anjos withdrew shortly before the fight after breaking his foot. With a little additional time to prepare, McGregor is more than ready to take a crack at the lightweight title.

“We’ve had an additional eight months to prepare, and [Conor] is such a better version of himself,” Kavanagh says. 

“We’ve been not just preparing, but we’ve dealt with a loss and changed things up. It spells bad news for Eddie and any future opponents.” 

We’ve been not just preparing, but we’ve dealt with a loss and changed things up. It spells bad news for Eddie and any future opponents.

Fighting for History

McGregor’s biggest motivation for the November 12 fight?

“Hashtag #history,” says Kavanagh. “We use it as a positive fuel for our training.”

conor-mcgregor-205-coach-5As it turns out, McGregor’s camp was pretty close to convincing him not to take the fight.

“I can tell you if this had been in Vegas, we probably wouldn’t be doing it,” Kavanagh says. “But there’s only ever one first.”​

“I look forward to the day that me and Conor are sitting around a fire in a couple of decades and thinking back about the old days,” Kavanagh says.

“We’ll be remembering that first time the UFC came to Madison Square Garden. Conor being the first main event. Conor being the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously. If that doesn’t give you chills down your spine, I think you’re dead.”

No matter which side the coin lands on, UFC 205 will be one for the history books.

We’ll be remembering that first time the UFC came to Madison Square Garden. Conor being the first main event. Conor being the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously. If that doesn’t give you chills down your spine, I think you’re dead.

conor-mcgregor-205-coach-6

Spark+slag / november 2016
Alison Smith, Contributor