While McGregor is a two-divisional champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he appears to fatigue quickly in fights, especially when he’s unable to put his opponent out early or is pressured in the fight. It was evident in the fight with Chad Mendes but far more noticeable in both of his fights against Nate Diaz as well as his boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. last August. Perhaps because he sees no point in denying the obvious, the normally brazen McGregor has openly admitted to getting tired in fights.
A number of theories have floated around regarding the cause of McGregor’s cardio issues, with highly respected MMA trainer Firas Zahabi believing it could be related to the type of muscle fibers in his body and a fan theory that it’s because he doesn’t actually do roadwork when he trains, preferring instead to use a treadmill or a bike for his cardio.
During a recent edition of his “Beyond The Fight” podcast, Sonnen stated that he believes that McGregor’s cardio comments after his fights don’t accurately tell the story of what happened and believes it has nothing to do with him being in poor condition (via Bloody Elbow):
“There’s a narrative out there about his conditioning,” Sonnen said. “And that largely came because of his fight with Nate Diaz where Conor said ‘I ran out of energy.’ He said that. I just don’t know that that was an accurate assessment, meaning that Conor was in poor shape, or if you should also look at the intangibles of which, one, he was surprised, so when you have an adrenaline dump or some kind of a frustration, it’s gonna cause some stress, which is gonna cause fatigue. And also, he was up two weight classes. Even though Conor helped to add fuel to the fire which was ‘I didn’t have enough energy, which created a false narrative — what I believe is a false narrative — that he has cardio and lung issues. I don’t think that’s true.”
McGregor has said in the past, most recently in his post-fight interview after the Mayweather fight, that he needs to work more on his conditioning.
“There’s a patch somewhere in the middle of fights, even with the Diaz 2 fight,” McGregor said. “I have this patch where I must overcome, I get a little wobbly. But it’s more fatigue. If you look at the Diaz 2 fight, I came through that, came back round four and round five”.
Whatever the reasons may be, McGregor’s cardio will be tested against one of the best grapplers in MMA when he takes on UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on Oct. 6.