Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh spoke recently with Matt Erickson and Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie, as part of a media tour for his autobiography ‘Win or Learn’ which is available for purchase online. McGregor was initially scheduled to fight Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt, but when the champion was injured, Nate Diaz came in and won, setting up a rematch. In the meantime, RDA recovered and lost his belt to Eddie Alvarez, who now fights McGregor on Saturday.
If McGregor wins, he will become the first fighter in UFC history to hold belts in two divisions at once. His coach believes Alvarez is an easier fight than RDA would have been.
“I think Alvarez is a little bit more straightforward,” said Kavanagh. “Dos Anjos obviously has a world-class submission game on the ground. Alvarez is more basic on the ground. He’s just going to hold you there and throw some shots, whereas dos Anjos has very slick jiu-jitsu. In other respects, they’re both quite similar in that they’re both physically similar, and similar style. A couple punches, then try to get a takedown. But I think Eddie is slightly the easier fight because he’s orthodox and doesn’t have quite the submission game as dos Anjos.”
Saturday will be McGregor’s fourth fight within a year – he took the featherweight title from Aldo in December, lost to Diaz in March, won the rematch in August, and now fights Alvarez in November.
“Conor is best when he’s kept busy like this,” said Kavanagh. “As long as there’s no injuries stopping him competing, I think it actually works out for the best. If you take long breaks between fights, sometimes you can overthink things. Sometimes fighters who haven’t fought in more than a year and they’re nervous and not familiar with those feelings. He’s fighting every couple weeks so it’s very familiar, he’s very comfortable backstage. It’s actually worked out to be a blessing in the long run and he’s had a lot more preparation for this lightweight title fight than he would have if he had gotten this [shot at a second title] last March. It’s positive.”
“Conor has range, he can hold him on the outside and then if Eddie does close the distance, yes, he’s probably going to have a small weight advantage, but not the same weight advantage as Nate did. But this is going to be a range war, and Eddie’s losing that one.”
The coach then predicted the round and how it finishes.
“I can see a similar fight to Mendes,” said Kavanagh, referencing a T/KO via straight left hand. “I think Eddie will use up a lot of energy in Round 1 trying to pin Conor to the fence. I think late in Round 2, the left hand will land and that will be all she wrote.”
If that comes to pass, according to UFC president Dana White, McGregor will have to give up one belt or the other.
“I wish the best of luck to anybody that tries to come take those belts off him,” said Kavanagh