Conor McGregor’s coach John Cavanagh believes improvements will be evident in UFC 200 rematch with Nate Diaz

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor (Photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today)

Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has penned a new column for Irish site in the wake of the official announcement of McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz for UFC 200.

Kavanagh says it was McGregor who pushed for the rematch, wanting the fight in order to give the “perfect representation of himself” that he did not show in the loss at UFC 196.

“Conor believes that the last fight didn’t accurately reflect the skills and ability he possesses, so he’s eager to address that,” McGregor wrote. “He ended up harassing UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta on a daily basis for a rematch. This is the fight that’s of most interest to him right now.

“I doubt that any non-biased observer could look at the first round of that 5 March bout at the MGM Grand and not score it in Conor’s favour. For me, we saw the technical difference between the two fighters in that opening frame. The difference in the second round was down to cardio, and a cardio issue is much easier to rectify than a skill one.

“Going into that second round, the gameplan was straightforward: repeat what had happened in the first round… for five rounds, if necessary. However, that’s not how it ultimately played out.”

While the loss was a significant setback to McGregor’s previously stated goals, Kavanagh also believes it’s a fight that gave them more to work with than any of his previous UFC fights to date. And with cardio, as Kavanagh believes, being the main point of improvement needed, they think the rematch will showcase McGregor as the superior fighter despite the first result.

“If Conor had gone through his entire career without pitting his skillset against that type of opponent, there would have been no window for learning,” Kavanagh wrote. “The Jose Aldo fight in December was iconic, it was beautiful to watch and all that, but we didn’t really take away a whole lot from it.

“With this one, I feel we’ve yielded months of lesson plans. It has really reignited the fire in both Conor and myself. We’re excited about training for it and we’ve made some good plans which involve some adjustments, including spending a little bit more time out in Las Vegas. We’ll make some minor changes to the training to get used to that particular opponent and we won’t be overly-reliant on Conor’s left hand to secure the result.

We took a huge amount of information away from it and you don’t get that from short fights like Aldo, or even in a one-sided bout like Dennis Siver,” he continued. “This one was ideal as it highlighted some holes we need to fill in. As always, we win or we learn and we’ve certainly learned a lot from this one. The improvements will be very evident on 9 July.

“…The skills were there. When the strategy veered off course, that led to exhaustion and the dynamic of the fight changed. An exhausted opponent is not difficult to defeat. That’s a mistake we made. Everyone makes mistakes, but the challenge now is to ensure that we don’t repeat them. The training and the strategy will be different this time. So too will the result.”

Penick’s Analysis: It wasn’t simply a cardio issue, though there was something to that in the second as he wasn’t as quick at evading after trying to take Diaz out with every exchange. He was having some success, no question, but he got hurt badly by Diaz before taking the fight to the ground and getting out-worked there. There are things he can fix, and he very well might be able to beat Diaz in a rematch. There are things he did quite well in that first seven minutes of the fight, but knowing that Diaz has beaten him may shake that confidence somewhat come July 9. Perhaps not, and we may see him as headstrong as ever, but he’s taking a significant risk in this rematch at 170 lbs.

[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]

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