- Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh told Business Insider his fighter is “arguably the best in the world.”
- McGregor has suffered back-to-back defeats in boxing and MMA since becoming a two-weight UFC champion.
- He was beaten last year by the reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who Kavanagh acknowledged as a dominant athlete.
- But Kavanagh remains excited whenever McGregor is in the Straight Blast Gym in Dublin, as he learns every time they train together.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
DUBLIN – Conor McGregor’s coach still thinks he’s the best fighter in the world despite his heavy beating by Khabib Nurmagomedov last year.
“I believe he’s arguably the best in the world,” John Kavanagh recently told Business Insider at the Straight Blast Gym in Dublin.
McGregor is one of the greatest success stories in mixed martial arts. He is one of seven UFC fighters to hold championship titles in two weight classes, one of the greatest box office attractions in combat sports history, and the only mixed martial artist to cross over into boxing and challenge himself against a pound-for-pound great like Floyd Mayweather.
Since McGregor’s 10th round stoppage loss to Mayweather, he has fought just once – a lightweight title fight against Nurmagomedov, a bout he was conclusively beaten in, submitted because of a neck crank in the fourth round.
Nurmagomedov returned to the Octagon last month, beating Dustin Poirier by submission at the UFC 242 event in Abu Dhabi.
The Russian wrestler, undefeated in 28 pro MMA fights, is now attracting comparisons to Mayweather because of his winning run at the top of his sport, combat IQ, and ability to fight his fight and not his opponent’s.
“He is very dominant, that is just a fact,” Kavanagh said. “Both of them are undefeated, both of them are very dominant.”
Nurmagomedov is currently without an opponent, but could return in March or April next year.
With the well-rounded fighter Tony Ferguson the no.1 contender to Nurmagomedov’s title, a high-profile bout between the two will likely be next.
“At this stage of my life, I just like watching contests,” Kavanagh said. “I’ll watch local amateur fights, I’ll watch Khabib and Tony.”
Kavanagh smiled thinking back to Nurmagomedov’s bout against McGregor.
“Only one person in the world has won one round against him, that’s Conor,” he said, reminiscing about the success McGregor enjoyed in the third round, before he was stopped in the fourth.
McGregor is a ‘savant’
Kavanagh has previously hinted at personal regrets in the preparation and strategies employed in the Nurmagomedov bout. Rather than worrying too much about negating Nurmagomedov’s best assets, Kavanagh said last year the team could have focused more on McGregor’s strengths – striking. He even said last year that a rematch would be a “huge fight.”
Though Kavanagh is in new facilities – a 16,000 square foot fight club that has state-of-the-art locker rooms and a sauna that can fit up to 40 people – McGregor is never far away.
Kavanagh trains approximately 40 professional fighters, helping navigate the Bellator prospect James Gallagher to stardom, but McGregor, too, is training hard and his coach says he remains fit, strong, and sharp.
“I’m his coach, I love mixed martial arts, and I believe he’s arguably the best in the world,” Kavanagh said.
“I love watching him compete, I learn every time he competes. There’s always something new in what he does. He’s a savant in this area.”
And though it is the coach who is the teacher and McGregor the pupil, Kavanagh says it is he who is also learning.
“His technique is sublime. His timing. Everything about what he does is fantastic. I love watching him. I love training him. I learn every time he’s on the mat.”