This is how Conor McGregor needs to change his training to beat Nate Diaz, a sports scientist tells JOE 5 years ago

This is how Conor McGregor needs to change his training to beat Nate Diaz, a sports scientist tells JOE

"The definition of madness is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results," or so the famous old quote goes.

While we're not accusing Conor McGregor of being mad, it's clear he is fixated on avenging his loss to Nate Diaz after he was spectacularly choked out at UFC 196.


The Irishman reportedly watched re-runs of the submission 20 times after he left the octagon that night, then demanded a rematch at the same 170lbs weight to get his revenge at UFC 200.

There were clearly mistakes made by McGregor in the defeat that ended his seven-fight UFC winning streak - the Notorious admits it himself.

The one huge thing was the gulf in fitness between the two fighters on the night - or more specifically, the way the two fighters used their energy reserves.

Diaz took the fight at 10 days' notice. While McGregor, who put on around 25lbs, was coming off a full fight camp where he famously swapped "salads for steaks".

But McGregor loaded up on every shot and looked gassed midway through the second round of the fight, and it was all too easy for Diaz to submit him when it went to the mat.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Nate Diaz applies a choke hold to win by submission against 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)


"Diaz did all of that on a few days' notice," Ross Edgley tells JOE. "And now McGregor wants to fight him after a full training camp? Surely that’s not going to end any better?"

The leading British sports scientist believes if McGregor really wants a different result from the rematch there is one huge element in his training he's going to need to change: his fitness.

For Edgley, who works with the likes of the Cambridge Rowing Team and Everton FC, the gulf in fitness levels during the fight was stark.

But it was even before the fight that alarm bells were ringing for Edgley, who says: "McGregor’s cardio isn’t great. You saw that against (Chad) Mendes."

He noticed one facet of McGregor's pre-fight preparations with Ido Portal filmed on UFC Embedded which he believes may have hindered his performance in the Octagon


"All the time McGregor’s in a park doing movement stuff with Ido Portal, which is awesome. But when he’s doing ring muscle-ups with him and working on the eccentric phase, I’m thinking ‘that’s overtraining waiting to happen'.

"You’re using all your adaptive energy trying to master ring muscle-ups. That entire time you’ve got Nate Diaz who’s got the V02 of a Kenyan runner with mad BJJ skills. Then what happens? It look him 10 or 20 seconds when he was on the mat for him to pass his guard, take his back, and choke him out."

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)

Edgley says this use of adaptive energy on techniques that won't necessarily add an advantage in the fight is a crucial point.


"In terms of looking at someone’s adaptive energy, Dr Yuri Verkhoshansky says you’ve got a certain amount of adaptive energy during the day – where do you spend that adaptive energy?

"When you look at someone like McGregor who’s going up against Nate Diaz, you need to expend a lot of that just improving your V02."

In simple terms, V02 is the amount of oxygen your body can utilise. Why is this important?

Because muscle needs oxygen to perform. But when you put on more size, like McGregor did to fight at welterweight, that extra muscle needs more oxygen - or you will gas. Here's a more in depth explanation. 


This played a crucial factor in McGregor's first defeat to Diaz. The Stockton native, who throws a high volume of 'pitter patter' punches before going in for the kill, used his energy intelligently.

Conversely McGregor came out swinging, trying to knock Diaz's head off with big, energy-sapping punches and kicks.

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)

Edgley picked up on this, saying: "If you’ve got someone doing capoeira and spinning kicks the whole time, it affects your central nervous system and your energy.

"And this is what Conor McGregor said afterwards: ‘I gassed because I wasn’t efficient with my energy'.

"You’re going up against a guy who can breeze five rounds and he does triathlons for fun – and you think it’s a good idea to be throwing spinning back kicks in the first round?"

So what should McGregor do to avoid suffering the same fate when he faces Diaz again on July 9 - after the American has had a full training camp?

"If you’re going up against someone like Diaz again, take more time off to increase your lactic threshold and your V02 – all of these things – before you get back in there," Edgley says.

"Don’t think it’s going to end any better if you’ve not improved anything."

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5: Conor McGregor (L) kicks 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)

McGregor will always have a puncher's chance against anyone - but he threw his best shots at Diaz, who has only been KO'd once in his career, and he ate every one of them.

That means The Notorious could be facing a five-round war at UFC 200 - so cardiovascular fitness is going to be key.

Edgley says: "With McGregor, even by his own admission, he wasn’t efficient with his energy.

"That is one limiting factor and it takes months to improve upon. So why is he just jumping straight back in there thinking ‘maybe my V02 max has improved?’

"No it hasn’t. You’re still going to be at that disadvantage. But if he was like, ‘my technique was bad’, or ‘I got caught with a lucky shot’, then yes, jump back in."

"You can just work on your footwork, your technique, or defence, and that can be improved upon quickly

"But when your limiting factor is your energy, your V02, your lactic threshold and all those things, it’s not going to get any better for you, that’s my opinion."

Edgley, who recently became the first man to pull a 1.4 ton car across a 26-mile marathon distance, says this is where sports science comes into play.

"When you’re addressing something like work capacity or endurance, you identify your limiting factor. Whether that’s your V02 or your lactic threshold, all of that can be tested. So you can say lactic per molar blood, you need to improve that by X amount."

Edgley just did this with the Cambridge University rowing team that were victorious over Oxford in the 2016 Boat Race.

"When you look at a certain rower it was like, ‘so why aren’t you performing as well?’

"Is it biomechanics? Great. That’s easy to improve. If it’s not, you look at V02. That’s a little harder to improve.

Is it capillary density? Yes – okay that’s going to be long, drawn-out workouts. Is it mitochondrial activity? Then you start to adapt that.

"If they’re just swimming in lactic after 400m of rowing, then its like that comes from shorter interval work. But it’s identifying all these things."

When you look at McGregor's performance he was hurt and exhausted when Diaz mounted him and choked him out.

"So with McGregor he was completely fatigued, so he must ask, 'why did I fatigue?' Once you start to find out why, you can start to tailor a plan towards remedying that. But without it, you’re just like, ‘well let’s just carry on doing ring muscle ups."

Whatever happens in the Diaz fight, McGregor is likely to have to drop back down to defend his featherweight title against the winner of Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.

Edgley believes he's going to face similar problems and reckons it could be a tough 2016 for the Dubliner.

"What’s Frankie Edgar going to do to him? There are stories in strength and conditioning circles about Frankie Edgar’s conditioning. There’s this thing called the Mantathlon and for all of those things, what Frankie Edgar could do was obscene.

"He has to sit down and look at Diaz and Edgar who are lining up to fight him. They are two people where your fitness, MMA aside, your muscular endurance and stamina need to be through the roof.

"But even Rafael dos Anjos, he’s an absolute physical specimen too. He can go five rounds easy. I would be sitting there, if I was (John) Kavanagh, thinking, ‘Right, 2016 is going to be rough because we’re facing these guys who can go five rounds'. I’d be inclined to take some time off, and let’s get you doing hill sprints,  intervals and all this stuff."