Conor McGregor has made two huge changes to his training and diet 4 years ago

Conor McGregor has made two huge changes to his training and diet

Much was said about Conor McGregor's performance in his first UFC defeat against Nate Diaz.

The Irishman took the fight at welterweight - a whole 25lbs heavier than when he stepped on the scales before dethroning featherweight king Jose Aldo.

This was McGregor on 'steaks not salads'. He said it was the strongest and most energized he'd ever felt coming into a fight with no weight cut - and the pre-fight workouts showed as much.

But after going head hunting on Diaz and loading up on every shot, he found no gas left in the tank and was choked out moments after taking the Stockton BJJ specialist to ground at UFC 196.

Interestingly McGregor told ESPN he had stopped working with respected nutritionist George Lockhart after the fight was moved from 155lbs to 170lbs and two weeks out he was eating what he wanted.

"The first eight minutes of the fight was easy," McGregor said. "Let's be honest, I slapped the head off him. Once the gas tank went, that was it. I drowned.

"He landed that one punch that rang the bell and went, '[Gasp,] I'm back.' He was close to being done. One or two more shots and he would have been wrapped up."

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Nate Diaz punches Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)


It was a humbling night and one to forget for The Notorious - but there were big lessons to be learned.

Sports scientist Ross Edgley told JOE that the gulf in fitness between McGregor and Diaz was clear - and warned it was a gulf that would have to be bridged if the Irishman wanted a different outcome from their to-be-confirmed rematch.

Edgley, who has worked with everyone from world champion powerlifter Andy Bolton to the Cambridge University Rowing Team, was clear on what McGregor needed to change in his training to beat Diaz.

The featherweight champ needed to cut out the fatigue-heavy strength exercises pre-fight (think ring muscle-ups with Ido Portal) and seriously build up his V02 Max (maximum aerobic capacity) to feed his now-bigger muscles with the oxygen to sustain him five rounds.

While the furore surrounding McGregor's 'retirement', his subsequent axing from UFC 200 and question marks about when and if he will even face Diaz again, the Dubliner sounds like he is indeed adapting his training and addressing his weaknesses.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Conor McGregor (R) punches Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

"Swinging on gymnastic rings on fight week isn't the best thing," he told ESPN  "Usually, I wrap myself in bubble wrap and only do fight-specific things, but just because of that weight, no weight cut, I had put it in my head that, 'I'm free.'

"I had energy to burn. I was doing so much bounce footwork, the balls of my feet were burned to a crisp. Looking back, it was ridiculous. I don't know what I was thinking."

Interestingly, McGregor has brought in specialists to monitor his cardiovascular output - a wise move for a man who gassed out after barely two rounds of a five-rounder.

It sounds like he won't be making the same mistake twice on the diet front either - and is now working with Lockhart year-round, even with no 170lbs weight cut.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Conor McGregor punches Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

We know Lockhart isn't a fan of fighters eating red meat - while it's good for the testosterone, it takes the body so much energy to process beef that it can leave you sluggish for training.

It looks like the famous steaks are gone from McGregor's plate - replaced by fish and vegetables, which are a brilliant source of lean protein and low glycemic, vitamin and mineral-rich carbs.

"Look at me right now," McGregor said. "Fish, red cabbage, asparagus -- I'm nowhere near a fight ,and I'm on the clock with nutrition."

It looks like when McGregor does finally return to the Octagon (or ring) we might be seeing a different beast yet again.