Conor McGregor's trainer reveals the big mistake he made before the Nate Diaz defeat
Conor McGregor's crushing defeat at the hands of Nate Diaz has been dissected to death.
The Notorious' march through the UFC ranks was brought to a screeching halt at UFC 196 when Diaz choked him out in the second round.
Sports scientists highlighted his inferior cardio, MMA experts said his muscle mass and overloaded shots gassed him while others criticised his BJJ.
But now McGregor's coach John Kavanagh has spoken out about the damaging defeat in an excerpt from his new autobiography Win or Learn, featured in The 42 - and he identified the biggest mistake made by the Dubliner coming into the bout.
Coming into the fight McGregor didn't have to make his grisly weight cut down to the 145lbs featherweight limit after taking the fight at 170lbs.
But Kavanagh reckons this departure from his normal pre-fight ritual put everyone him off his game.
“Not having to cut weight for the fight against Diaz was supposedly helpful, but in hindsight it was undoubtedly a hindrance.
Cutting weight may not be much fun, but it does serve as a reminder that you’re preparing for a fight.
"It focuses the mind and has been an enormous part of what we’ve been doing. Without that ritual, things were just weird. It left us all in an unusual state of mind.
"The routine we had established was suddenly absent. The need to cut weight gets the fighter in the zone and lets them know that a fight is on the horizon. If a person is starving, they’re in survival mode.
"It focuses the mind and taps into the reptilian part of the brain. When Conor is cutting weight, he views his opponent as an obstacle in the way of his next meal. It’s a primal thing.
"On the other hand, when you’ve eaten a good dinner, all you want to do is relax in front of the TV. The fire in your belly is replaced by food. Being stuffed isn’t conducive to maintaining a competitive mindset”.
Many people have since questioned McGregor's decision to go after Diaz again, at the same weight no less.
But just like the title of his book, the SBG coach says lessons have been learned and McGregor will be a different animal coming into the rematch.
He's already told the UFC he won't be killing himself traversing the globe for media obligations and the fighter has already made two huge changes in his preparations.
But Kavanagh has spelled it out...
“Even for his next welterweight fight, Conor’s diet will be strict. We’ve accepted now that it’s an important element of his preparation, so you can expect him to come in on weigh‐in day at around 165lbs [McGregor weighed 168lbs for the first encounter].
"No cheesecakes this time! It will be nutrition geared specifically towards performance”.
Kavanagh held his hands up too as McGregor's coach for his part in the preparations. But what is clear, it doesn't look like they'll be making the same mistakes twice.
"Conor’s loss was a lesson and it’s one that our next wave of fighters, in particular, will be able to learn from.
"He’s blazing a trail for the younger fighters coming through. They can study his journey and benefit from every step.
"There were mistakes made and, as the coach, I’ll take ownership of them. We should have travelled out sooner.
"We should have maintained the same level of meticulous preparation and competitive mindset that we had become accustomed to.
"We won’t be tucking into desserts, driving around in flashy cars and fucking about. Well, maybe there will still be nice cars, but anything that negatively impacts our usual level of preparation will be knocked on the head.
"It has to be, and I know it will be, because nobody is more critical of Conor than Conor himself."
We will undoubtedly see a stripped-back, leaner, fitter and more focussed McGregor coming into the rematch.
He will be out to prove a point, he will want to get revenge and most of all send a message to everyone who stuck the boot in after the first defeat.
But he will come up against a bullish Diaz, coming off the back of a full camp and a famous victory. which all makes for a truly intriguing contest.