Coach’s fresh Conor McGregor demands
CONOR McGregor has been attending Drake concerts and Dallas Cowboys games in the wake of his defeat against Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the fallen UFC star will have to step out of the spotlight if he wants a rematch with the Russian.
In the first sign from the Irish superstar's camp his divergent interests - including the launch of his own whisky brand - may have hurt him at UFC 229, McGregor's coach John Kavanagh will require an "old school" approach to training if McGregor-Nurmagomedov II happens.
McGregor declared he was "looking forward to the rematch" after his fourth-round submission and began peppering Kavanagh's phone with text messages suggesting changes they could make in how they approach the match-up.
But there's major alterations the coach has in mind.
"Conor watched (the Khabib fight) right away, I hadn't seen the fight since," he told ESPN. "I got essays immediately to my phone, 'This is what we're gonna do, we're gonna do this, we're gonna do that.'
"I was like great, if we're gonna do it, let's do it. But I would change a few things around even from a training standpoint.
"We'd have to go ... it's kind of funny, to use a ridiculous analogy, it's a bit like Rocky III. We've got this up and coming guy (Khabib) and I wanna go back to get the eye of the tiger, go back and train in an old school gym. Just disappear. Get me, Conor, Artem (Lobov), Peter (Queally), and that kind of crew, and just disappear for three months. Really put in a nightmarish training camp, an old school training camp. If we're going to do it again, that would be my requirement to go ahead and do this again."
Kavanagh understands the business side of the sport and rates McGregor's ability to juggle his time, but a threat like Nurmagomedov requires a single-minded preparation.
He believes McGregor is up for the challenge. "From the limited amount of chat we had about it, he wants to do that again. And he's excited to do it," Kavanagh said.
"Because what's he fighting for at this stage? He's won some titles. He's won plenty of money. So at 30 and with his second kid on the way ... what would be driving him to do this again? It has to be that he wants to prove he's the best. It has to be he wants to prove it to himself and to fight a great fighter like Khabib. So if we're going to do that, then let's really do it and really commit to it."
Kavanagh said he couldn't see McGregor wanting to fight any of the other contenders in the 155-pound division - like Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis - until he had fought Nurmagomedov again.
"Conor's just got so much going on in his life, I don't see him overly enthused to face one of those guys," he said. "Maybe I'm completely wrong. He might come back to me and say 'What the hell are you on about, I'll fight all of those guys.'
"Great, okay. I'm up for that. But to get that real fire in him - it reminds me when he lost to (Nate) Diaz - that real fire that was in him to get the rematch and train like an animal for it and go in and have his best performance. So if it's going to be that, it has to be Khabib.
"If we're going to do that we've got to go back to the old school and really commit ourselves to it. Everything else goes on the backburner."
Nurmagomedov and McGregor are both waiting to find out if they'll be sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for their roles in the wild aftermath to their fight.
But Kavanagh is convinced McGregor will be back.
"I can't imagine Conor drifting off into the sunset off the back of a loss," he said. "He's the most competitive human being I've ever been lucky enough to meet. He's the got the other sides of his world in great shape, he's conquered them. If I know Conor at all, he has to fight again."