Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has revealed what the Irishman did wrong during his defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
McGregor lost to the Russian in Round Four of their lightweight title fight at the T-Mobile Arena after tapping out of a rear naked choke.
Appearing on the Joe Rogan Podcast on Monday night, Kavanagh talked in detail about the Notorious’ tactics and where mistakes were made.
The most surprising moment of the fight for him, he said was the huge right hand Nurmagomedov landed early in the second round.
“The right hand in the second round was a cracker, it was beautiful,” Kavanagh said. “It’s a staple of a wrestler — (the) overhand right and close — but he generally doesn’t do that, he’s more of a jab and then close. That was a great shot.”
The 41-year old MMA coach said the fight had gone as expected, especially in the first round where he had prepared McGregor to expect a take down.
“The goal of round one was to get out of it still having energy,” Kavanagh said.
“We didn’t want to put a huge amount of effort in trying to get back up in round one, which seemed to happen many times with his other opponents and they kind of got back to the stool really tired.
“So round one, make him pay, do our best on the way in, fight as hard as we can — but if we do end up down, if it’s against the fence because we expected it there, try and stay seated up, if we end up on our back, just try and play guard until the bell. Accept it will be a 10-9 round.
“For round two, again same plan. Do as much damage as we can, but if we end up on our back, don’t put a huge amount of effort into trying to get back up (because) he’s an absolute master of regrounding people.
“That turned out to be a 10-8 round, he got some good shots there and obviously he landed the great right hand. So that was a bit more than we hoped for.”
Despite receiving some heavy punishment toward the end of Round Two, McGregor enjoyed his best round of the fight in the third, winning it on the cards of all three judges.
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 7, 2018
“Round three things started turning a little bit in our favour,” Kavanagh said. “(McGregor) did a lot better job of keeping it in the middle, defending the take-downs.
“In the beginning the consensus was Conor knocks him out in the first — or Khabib takes over from round two on. For us to win the third round was probably a bit of a surprise for people.
“But the Al Iaquinta fight, if you look at that, from round three on he wasn’t able to hit any take-downs. So we hoped that was how it would go in round three, we’d start being able to defend the take-down much easier and start landing our shots. And that did happen (but) not as well as we planned.”
The former champion failed to land any major shots or hurt Nurmagomedov during the third and then made his critical mistake following another take-down in the fourth and final round.
“In round four he hit another great take-down,” Kavanagh said. “(McGregor) made a mistake giving up the overhook, exposed our back and that was all she wrote.”
Meanwhile, Kavanagh said that he hopes Nurmagomedov is not hit with a huge punishment for his post-fight loss of control, which saw him jump into the crowd and attack McGregor’s wrestling coach.
“I hope they’re lenient on him and not just so we can get a rematch,” Kavanagh said. “I love watching him fight for a start and I can stretch myself to understand his reaction. I can’t stretch myself to understand the other guy’s reactions and what they did [going after Conor].
“For Khabib he jumped over the cage and he jumped someone. It’s not the end of the world.”
The conduct of both fighters following the end-of-fight brawl is currently under investigation by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.