Conor McGregor’s coach predicts ‘one-sided’ victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 202
Since the moment Conor McGregor walked out of the cage at UFC 196, he’s been obsessed with beating Nate Diaz to avenge his first loss inside the Octagon.
That’s according to McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh, who sat down for an extensive interview recently with FOX Sports, to talk about the upcoming rematch at UFC 202 on Aug. 20.
Kavanagh says McGregor started working to fix the mistakes he made in the first fight against Diaz literally a half-hour after the bout ended and that preparation hasn’t stopped since then.
"Since half an hour after the loss, we’ve been pretty obsessive about that one particular opponent," Kavanagh said. "So it’s going on months now. I feel like that’s all that’s in my head lately, and I know it’s the same for him. We’ve never done that before. It’s unique and it’s very exciting. It’s been a very interesting learning experience for me."
In previous training camps, Kavanagh said their approach has always been focused solely on McGregor’s own improvements and not trying to target one specific opponent.
The reason behind that way of thinking goes back to McGregor’s multitude of opponent changes over the years where he’s prepared for one fighter only to see them drop out in the days or weeks leading up to the bout.
Those constant changes forced Kavanagh to adjust his coaching to instead only worry about McGregor getting better rather than worry about every nuance of his opponents because chances are he’d be fighting someone different anyways.
This time, Kavanagh structured McGregor’s entire preparation around Diaz and that included bringing in a slew of new training partners as well as a much more structured camp that reinvigorated the entire team surrounding him.
"There has been a major change in the approach to this fight as opposed to the other ones. It’s a much more structured approach to this fight," Kavanagh explained. "I’m pretty sure that’s going to be adopted moving forward. To sum up the main difference between this one and other ones is that — I can tell you what dates we have, different sessions as in when our MMA sparring’s on and when our jiu-jitsu sparring’s on, when our technical sessions are on. Where as before it was done on the day, on the fly, how we felt or how he was feeling that particular day. Now I know everything, it’s mapped out, laid out and for me I like that.
"Now we’re both kind of on the same path on the same mindset."
Kavanagh understands the pressure for McGregor to go out and get a win this time but he says just any victory over Diaz won’t do.
In fact, Kavanagh says that McGregor needs to go out and dominate Diaz from bell to bell to truly bounce back from the previous loss while proving that he’s still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
"If it’s a close fight and Conor kind of closely gets a decision, well then there has to be the rubber match. Maybe that will happen either way. I really feel it has to be a dominant performance to make the type of statement Conor wants to make," Kavanagh said. "I’m always weary of looking at things through rose tinted glasses and being biased, but for me round one was quite one-sided. I’m pretty sure anybody would score that round to Conor. That’s the way I see it going for whatever number of rounds it lasts this time, but even more in Conor’s favor."
McGregor has already predicted that he would put away Diaz inside two rounds for the rematch at UFC 202. As far as his coach’s prediction, Kavanagh knows Diaz is an incredible tough and durable fighter so he’s not going to pick the round, but he will say with confidence that McGregor will be in charge from the opening bell until the referee stops the fight.
Because there was some exchanges in that first round that he was still kind of figuring out how Nate moves. Now, like I said, it's been a fairly obsessive couple of months where we feel we have a very, very strong game plan to counter everything he does. I expect it to be one sided.
— John Kavanagh
"When it will end is hard to say," Kavanagh stated. "Him and his brother are both famous for being able to take an exorbitant amount of punishment so how long will it last? That’s hard to predict. As long as it does last, I see it being very one-sided."