- Conor McGregor has learned from the mistakes he made before, during, and after his spectacular failure against Khabib Nurmagomedov, in 2018.
- A source close to McGregor whose identity has been confirmed by Business Insider explained changes which have been made ahead of UFC 246 on Saturday.
- McGregor has been training with a blue-collar work ethic, has abstained from drinking his own whiskey brand, and has had a structured camp.
- He respects his opponent this weekend, Donald Cerrone, but expects a glorious knockout – his first win since 2016.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor made many mistakes before, during, and after the heavy beating he took in his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, in 2018.
In the months after that defeat, a pattern of violence away from sport followed. He threw a metal dolly at a bus, smashing a window and injuring UFC athletes. He snatched a phone from a fan’s hand then stomped on it, and threw a punch at an older man in a Dublin pub because he refused a measure of the fighter’s Proper no. Twelve whiskey.
The latter incident saw him issue a grovelling apology on ESPN.
The New York Times reported in October that McGregor was facing two separate sexual assault allegations which the Irish police, called the Gardai, have been investigating. His publicist denied the allegations last year, and McGregor told the media in Las Vegas this week that, “I have done nothing wrong here.”
We have a new Conor … who accepts he has made mistakes, owns them, and is going to try and make amends.
McGregor fought thrice in 2015 and thrice in 2016 with little controversy, but competed once in boxing in 2017, once in UFC in 2018, then not at all in 2019.
He lost his focus, something he has repeatedly said recently he has gotten back. Indeed, comments from a source close to McGregor, whose identity has been confirmed by Business Insider, says the welterweight fighter, who takes on Donald Cerrone at the UFC 246 event in the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, has rediscovered his blue-collar work ethic.
“He’s worked his arse off for this one so I have no doubt that he will be back to his old self after,” the source told us.
The source then said that the preparations for Cerrone have been markedly different than they were for the Nurmagomedov bout, 15 months ago. “He took this camp seriously, turned up when he was supposed to, and never let anyone down. He’s returned to his humble roots and back to the work ethic that got him to where he is now.”
There had been speculation that McGregor was in charge of his own camp, heightened by his head trainer John Kavanagh who reportedly said the sessions were about “getting out of his way” because “he knows more about fighting than the rest of us.”
Despite this comment, the source said the teacher-student relationship between Kavanagh and McGregor remains strong. “He is the eternal student and has razor-like focus watching every detail in attempting to pick something up he didn’t have before.”
The source added McGregor says he hasn’t drunk alcohol for four months, unlike the build-up to the Nurmagomedov loss where he was seen drinking whiskey just weeks before the show. “We have a new Conor … a mature one who accepts he has made mistakes, owns them, and is going to try and make amends.”
The new McGregor is one with structure, he says
The source’s comments are backed by McGregor himself, who told media at a press conference which Business Insider attended at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, that: “I have a team of experts in many different fields, from the conditioning side to the strength side to the mixed martial arts and the boxing side.
“It has been truly structured,” he said. “I had set times for my practises – 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. I went to bed at a specific time and got up at a specific time. It was a phenomenal camp. I have abstained from Proper no. Twelve [whiskey] … I feel light, fast, accurate, and precise.”
Business Insider went to McGregor’s coach Kavanagh for more information about changes in McGregor. He told us there’s a slightly different focus in the approach to boxing.
Kavanagh and McGregor accepted after the 2018 fight that mistakes had been made in the preparations for Nurmagomedov. They were too defensive and wary about what the UFC’s lightweight champion was going to bring to the bout, rather than focusing on what their own strengths are – striking.
The Mystic Mac prediction … it will be a KO.
That has not happened this time, as McGregor brought in his original boxing coach from Crumlin, Phil Sutcliffe.
“He’s just tidied up a few of Conor’s shots,” Kavanagh said of Sutcliffe. “But there’s probably the same emphasis in training in terms of the split between striking training and grappling training,” Kavanagh told us.
Kavanagh appeared happy McGregor was back, telling us it gives him focus, that “he’s no different to anyone else,” and is a different guy. “He has been like a kid in the candy store [in the gym], waking up every day and doing his favourite thing.”
As for McGregor’s opponent, Cerrone was hyped during fight week this week. “Conor is a last breed of a dying fighter,” the “Cowboy” said at a press conference. “I want to go and put on a fight and f—— give it all we got. I’m going five rounds with this dude and cannot f—— wait until Saturday to blow the roof of this mother f—–.”
McGregor, famed for his predictions, expects a glorious victory. “It’s hard not to respect Donald,” McGregor said. “He has my respect and although there will be blood spilled on January 18, it will not be bad blood.
“The Mystic Mac prediction … it will be a KO.”
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