Though Conor McGregor lost the biggest fight in UFC history when Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated him at UFC 229 on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas, he still hasn’t sat down with his coach to hash out what went wrong.
McGregor and his team went into the fight knowing that Nurmagomedov would have a distinct advantage in the wrestling department. The UFC lightweight champion has been wrestling under the tutelage of his father from about the time he started to walk.
Knowing that McGregor could be taken to the canvas and smothered by his Dagestani foe, his coach, John Kavanagh, focused heavily on how to stop the takedown specialist. In Kavanagh’s mind, however, that may have been their downfall.
“If I could go back, I think the mentality going in was a little too defensive,” Kavanagh said in a recent interview with ESPN. “Conor is a very offensive fighter and when the time to land was there, and we did have opportunities, it wasn’t there the way it was in the Eddie fight, for example.”
Leading up to the fight, Kavanagh didn’t think that McGregor’s 23 months outside of the Octagon would have much influence on the fight, but admits now that ring rust probably did play a small part. He wasn’t making excuses, just rehashing his takeaways from the fight.
“I said I didn’t think ring rust would be a part, but I have to be honest when I look at it now, when I replay it in my head, I do feel that played a little bit of a part, we didn’t quite get our shots off the way we normally would.”
That’s solely coming from Kavanagh, however, as he readily admitted that he’s barely even seen McGregor since the fight, let alone sat down with him to analyze it.
“This might actually surprise you, but I’ve not talked to Conor since the fight. We’ve had a couple of texts back and forth (but that’s it),” Kavanagh said initially before amending that slightly.
“Actually, I tell a lie, I bumped into him on Sunday night at about 1 a.m. He was just sitting with his family and I was leaving through a hotel. We didn’t really talk about the fight. Just how you doing,” said Kavanagh. “Said hello to his mom and his dad. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll see you soon,’ and then I left. I didn’t see him on Monday and I left on Tuesday. And I haven’t spoken to him since.“
Kavanagh also admitted that it isn’t all that uncommon for him to part ways with one of his fighters for a time after a bout. And it is particularly not uncommon with McGregor, who has a lot of moving parts in his life outside of the cage.
“I like to leave the fighter alone, so they decompress. He was leaving right away on a pretty intense whistle-stop tour of distributors for his whiskey, just doing some crazy amount of traveling. So he’s busy doing that side of things,” he continued. “I suppose in a week or two we’ll sit down properly and see what went right, what went wrong, and what’s his next move.”
(Video courtesy of ESPN | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)