Former UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub got wind that lightweight Kevin Lee is training with Floyd Mayweather in prep for the boxing superstar’s showdown with Conor McGregor. And the now-retired fighter sounds pretty unimpressed.
Not every fighter puts together an opponent specific camp. But for those with the money to do so, bringing in training partners to mimic an upcoming opponent can be a significant part of fight prep. Stephen Thompson was brought in by Chris Weidman to play the role of Anderson Silva. In T.J. Dillashaw’s time at Team Alpha Male, he became Urijah Faber’s Dominick Cruz impersonator. Conor McGregor spent time training with a number of boxers for his rematch with Nate Diaz.
But Floyd Mayweather’s choice of UFC sparring partner – supposedly to prepare for his bout with Conor McGregor – is raising a few eyebrows. Or, Brendan Schaub’s eyebrows to be exact.
The former UFC heavyweight and current podcasting personality voiced his thoughts on Mayweather apparently bringing UFC lightweight Kevin Lee into his camp, on a recent episode of his Big Brown Breakdown podcast (transcript via Business Insider).
“I wouldn’t say Kevin Lee is a good mimic of Conor McGregor,” Schaub explained on his Big Brown Breakdown podcast. “Lee’s base is wrestling. This is just [Mayweather] not knowing the sport.
“If [Mayweather’s team] should do anything, they should bring in, as money is no issue to Floyd, that Brazilian cat [Jonas Bilharinho] that Jose Aldo used to mimic McGregor. Granted, it didn’t work out for Aldo but [Bilharinho] moves like Conor.”
“I’ve never seen one move like Conor McGregor [but] the guy in Brazil that Aldo used is similar,” Schaub said. “He’s unorthodox and Mayweather needs an unorthodox striker to get ready for McGregor.”
Aldo’s use of McGregor specific sparring partners came under its own fire during the lead up to their bout, however. Aldo was caught by a spinning back kick during a light session that apparently re-injured an old rib problem. The injury was bad enough to get Aldo pulled from the card, with Chad Mendes stepping in against McGregor in his place.
In the long run, when Aldo did finally face McGregor, the prep didn’t do him much good. It remains to be seen if Mayweather’s work with MMA fighters ends up as anything more than a teased out pipe-dream, as a bout between Mayweather and McGregor is still anything but finalized.