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The third fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor was one of the most memorable in UFC history. The sports most popular star losing by a snapped leg seems like deja vu (Anderson Silva, anyone?). But the main takeaway I’ve gotten from the fight was the stagnant style of McGregor. For the most part, his opponents know what they’re getting into the octagon with now. There is no surprise in McGregor’s game anymore.
Should Conor McGregor change camps? He brings no surprises to the table anymore. Game plans have been tailored for him. I think it is time to switch it up.
— Blaine Henry | The Fight Library (@BlaineHenryTFL) July 12, 2021
We’ve discussed this topic in the past with From Good to Great: Where Chris Weidman Fell Short As An All Time Great and Kamaru Usman: Good To Great. You can read both of those at the bottom of the page. The entire premise of those two were examples of how a fighter adapting can make or break their career. In a nutshell, we spoke about how Weidman’s career went south after winning the belt and not adapting with what his body was capable of. In the Usman section it was the opposite: Kamaru Usman saw what his body was doing and he’s developed his standup for more longevity.
In Conor McGregor’s case, however, it’s not his body that is letting him down, it’s his lack of evolution in general. There are very few fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov who can have the same game plan and impose their will on his opponent. McGregor is not one of them either.
Conor McGregor and Blind Loyalty
Leading up to UFC 264, Conor McGregor threw barbs at Dustin Poirier asking, “Lafayette wasn’t good enough for you?” when Poirier was asked about training in Florida. McGregor has been a staunch supporter of staying loyal to those who got him to the show, most famously, John Kavanagh. Kavanagh brought him all the way to the Mayweather boxing match. The two achieved much together.
But a core tenet of martial arts is knowing that you can always learn more. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has an entire market around guest instructors coming teach at different gyms for new perspectives and techniques.
With the statements made by Kavanagh post fight has been concerning for me. He seem out of touch with what happened in that cage at UFC 264.
It was going fantastic. I thought he looked really, really good in there. I wasn’t concerned at all. I was actually really, really happy. A few adjustments in between rounds and I thought Round 2 we were well on track to getting a finish.
I don’t know what’s “really, really good” about a 10-8 round, but Kavanagh thought he was doing well. In addition to his deafness to the fight, McGregor really has stopped becoming a better fighter. While I’m not calling into question the skills and coaching abilities of John Kavanagh, I am wondering what else can Kavanagh teach McGregor.
Fighters change camps. That’s just the name of the business now. Most notably, Justin Gaethje has completely reinvented himself from being a brawler to a master tactician. Gaethje changed his style under the tutelage of Trevor Wittman (who’s name I mistakenly misspelled in the tweet above). Gaethje decided that brawling wouldn’t spell a long career in the UFC and made the necessary changes.
McGregor is also suffering from a similar issue to Raoni Barcelos, except it’s self inflicted. In Raoni Barcelos: Aging Out of Competition, I talked about Barcelos being too good and not able to get fights coming up through the ranks. Let’s be blunt here: nobody is turning down a fight with Conor McGregor. He’s the most called out fighter in the UFC due to the massive payday that comes with fighting him. Instead, McGregor has squandered his prime with the Floyd Mayweather boxing bout and the year-long layoffs in between his fights. Not fighting in his prime is unequivocally the biggest sin in McGregor’s career.
What To Do?
I don’t think Conor McGregor will ever leave SBG in Ireland. He’s doubled down on loyalty time and time again. Parting with John Kavanagh is a complete long shot for McGregor. That said, he needs a new perspective in his fighting game.
It will be hard to lure any top name coach like Trevor Wittman or Faris Zahabi to train McGregor exclusively in Ireland full time with the teams they have back home. But that’s not to say McGregor and company cannot find a coach or former fighter he likes that isn’t as high-profile of a coach. He can find someone with the specific skills he’s wanting to implement, wether it be taekwondo, sambo, or you name the sport. He has more money than he knows what to do with. With the addition of a new asset, he can truly find a new wrinkle to his game.
Conor McGregor has a long road of physical therapy ahead of him. Having undergone surgery on his snapped leg today, he will need to recover and likely be out another year. He will not be the same person when he returns. If he returns the same ole Conor McGregor, we will see similar gameplans and more losses. Staying how he is now, Conor McGregor will never make another title run. He will have to reinvent himself.
Read up on the articles mentioned in the article below! You won’t regret it!
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.