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Coach John Kavanagh: ‘I was too defensive in my mindset’ in training Conor McGregor for UFC 229

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Coming into UFC 229, Conor McGregor and his team were well aware of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s wrestling and grappling prowess. And according to head coach John Kavanagh, that might be one of the biggest factors that led to their fourth-round submission loss on Saturday night.

Kavanagh was a guest on the JRE MMA Show on Monday, where he spoke about having too much of a defensive mindset in preparation for the fight.

“If there’s one thing I could change it’s that I think I was too defensive in my mindset for this training camp,” Kavanagh told Joe Rogan. “But Khabib has very specific types of takedowns, depending on where he is, whether it’s shooting on the low single in the middle, and on the fence.”

“I would like to change things up a little bit, specifically, a more offensive mindset. I thought defensively, we did quite well, but offensively, we weren’t really where we usually are,” he added. “And right when the fight was over, I was thinking ‘You know what, I was kind of going into this not to lose, but not to win (either).”

“His shots weren’t as crisp as they normally are, he had opportunities to hit him, especially in the third round, and it seemed to be the range – something was off.”

Rogan suggested a fight against a non-specialist like Anthony Pettis, whom he believes would be a more suitable fight for McGregor. Kavanagh agrees, but he does not see it as an option that his fighter would fancy.

“He absolutely could, and he absolutely wouldn’t,” Kavanagh said of a “tune-up fight” before a rematch with Khabib. “When he lost to Diaz (the first time), backstage, he was screaming and shouting at all the top brass about getting the rematch at 170 as quick as possible. And I’m in the background going ‘Please, don’t. Did you not see that fight? (Nate) is a terrifying individual.’ Let’s get a 155-pound fight, and maybe, meet him again.”

“He was not letting that go, and four months later, he fought the exact same guy.”

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has yet to release their final sanctions after Saturday night’s post-fight brawl. For now, they have handed down 10-day suspensions for both fighters, as they continue to investigate the incident.


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