For those who don’t know him, Conor Anthony McGregor is a professional Irish-born mixed martial artist and professional boxer currently signed up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He is the former UFC Featherweight Champion, and reigning UFC Lightweight Champion. During his career as a mixed martial artist (MMA), he has competed as a welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight. McGregor began his career in MMA in 2008 and by 2012, won both the Cage Warriors Lightweight and Featherweight Championships.
At the UFC 194 in 2015, McGregor defeated Jose Aldo via knockout within thirteen seconds into the first round to claim the UFC Featherweight Championship. This is considered the fastest victory in a title fight in UFC history. At the UFC 205, McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship, making McGregor the first fighter in the history of the UFC to hold titles in both Featherweight and Lightweight divisions simultaneously. He has established himself as the largest pay-per-view draw in the history of MMA.
McGregor’s Training Camp
With the recent press trip, firmly in the rear-view mirror of Conor McGregor, he can now place all his focus on the vital month of training camp before the controversial entanglement with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the 26th of August in Las Vegas.
Previously, fighters used to treat their time in training camps with high levels of secrecy, except on sanctioned media days when numerous reporters would flood in to get a glimpse of the possible techniques they would use in their upcoming fights, especially after watching a few rounds of shadow boxing. However, these days, fighters allow for a nearly all-encompassing and illuminating look at their gyms, training, and key sparring partners in their camps that are spread across all channels of social media.
We’ve spend hours sifting through several social media channels to explore the unorthodox approach that has made McGregor one of the most phenomenal strikers in the history of UFC and provided useful information on his gym, his trainers, and fighting methods as well as an in-depth look at his sparring partners.
With his upcoming tussle against Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor’s training facility in Dublin, known as Straight Blast Gym, was recently revamped with a painting depicting him knocking Floyd Mayweather, the current undefeated champion, out cold with a devastating left hook. Straight Blast Gym forms part of a series of more than 50 gyms worldwide with one on every continent, except for Antarctica, classifying themselves as the Ivy League of martial arts.
It all started in 1992 when Matt Thornton opened the first Straight Blast Gym in Salem, Oregon. He wanted to create a multifunctional facility that taught people how to really fight. If that comprised of Asian martial arts, boxing, or any other form of fighting technique, the gym would offer it. Matt was after the truth, even if it meant going against his own beliefs, he was going to unlock it and unearth the truth behind it. The Straight Blast Gym situated in Ireland was established in 2001 by John Kavanagh. At the time, he was self-taught in martial arts and met Matt Thornton in 2002, becoming part of Straight Blast Gym International (SBGi) after the two met at a tournament in Africa. In the same year, Thornton awarded Kavanagh with his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and three years later, Kavanagh claimed a gold medal at the European Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship. He was also awarded his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in 2007, making him Ireland’s first ever Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in the process.
Straight Blast Gym was the key ingredient to unlocking McGregor’s passion for mixed martial arts. However, McGregor initially showed interest in fighting as a young kid at the Crumlin Boxing Club. This facility was established in the 1930’s that initially started as a donation from a tobacco company in Ireland. Stephen Kavanagh, the club’s boxing coach, recalled the very first time he saw the then 10-year-old McGregor, starting that he came in with sludge all over his shoes, made his way across the gym, and just started hitting the boxing bags.
By the time McGregor was 16, he already won the Dublin Novice Championship that was held at the national stadium. The Crumlin Boxing Club has produced over 30 champions since 1991 at both local and national levels. Remarkably, Daniel Day-Lewis has also trained at the club for his role in The Boxer.
When Conor McGregor initially signed up to fight Floyd Mayweather, many believed he would replace John Kavanagh, he’s current coach, with a more seasoned striking coach with the likes of Freddie Roach who prepared Manny Pacquiao for a similar clash. However, McGregor decided against bringing a pure boxing coach to the fold, rationalizing that every boxing coach has previously failed to put a chink in Mayweather’s armour.
John Kavanagh stated that Freddie Roach is incredible to say the least, and has been called one the last greats to fully understand it all in terms of a technician, psychologist, cutman, and trainer. However, he did fall short in his approach to Mayweather and therefore they cannot follow the same formula. Kavanagh describes his role as a filter, basically maximizing McGregor’s training while at the same time searching for logical places to break down the Philly Shell defense of Mayweather.
Owen Roddy has also formed part of the team and has taken the role of their striking coach. He can be praised for developing McGregor into the striker he is today. Conor had the gift of being able to strike extremely hard from the start, a great skill that you either have or don’t. But, looking at how McGregor developed from an amateur boxer at the age of 17 to a professional MMA fighter at the age of 28, flowing flawlessly between a stalking Thai boxer to a Taekwondo on-your-toes style, that’s a massive credit to Owen Roddy.
McGregor also praised Owen Roddy for always being in the fighter’s corner, playing a major role in his success and always being there when Conor needed him the most.
As I am sure you are aware, McGregor is not going to approach this world-class fight with the tactics and training of a traditional boxer. Mayweather will rely on a tried-and-true piece of equipment to measure his accuracy, whereas McGregor will practice the art of unpredictability by attempting to punch/strike playing cards out of the air that are being thrown in front of him.
Some would place this style of training in the same category as what Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko do with their drills using tennis balls. According to Ido Portal, a movement expert who is renowned for encouraging this technique, the drill has real-world application. The chaotic trajectory of a flying playing card will keep McGregor adaptive, responsive, and sharp to an unexpected situation. It basically focuses on installing a secondary prediction and abandoning the original prediction in a fraction of a second. This is believed to be an ability that sets the BEST apart from the GOOD.
Conor McGregor Sparring Partners
Conor McGregor has secured in six world-class partners to assist him with his fighting skills and technique for the upcoming fight against Floyd Mayweather. Each sparring partner has been carefully selected, bringing with them their own unique way of fighting, that will greatly assist the MMA fighter in preparing for what could arguably be the biggest fighting event of the decade. Below, you will find an in-depth review on each sparring partner, providing you with a greater overview of the rigorous training McGregor is enduring prior to the big event on August 26.
Tiernan Bradley was a silver medalist at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games and a semifinalist at the 2017 Irish Elite. This young boxer will play a key role in one of the biggest sporting events after being called into the training camp by Conor McGregor. Tiernan was enlisted as one of Conor’s principal sparring partners. The twenty-year-old Bradley will assist McGregor for the next two weeks as the time ticks away for the multi-million-pound match on August 26 in Las Vegas. Bradley started training with McGregor on August 14 at the Straight Blast Gym situated in Dublin, and was highly recommended by Conor Wallace, a former McGregor sparring partner. Wallace spent last summer with McGregor in Las Vegas, helping him prepare for his rematch against Nate Diaz where he was praised for playing a key role as the Dubliner took revenge.
However, in the world of boxing against a fighter looking at improving his record to 50 undefeated fights, and believed to be the best of his generation, is a different challenge altogether. Wallace was looking for someone talented that could replicate Mayweather’s slick defence style and wasted no time when he suggested Bradley to McGregor. Bradley, recognised as the Sacred Heart, Omagh stylist, was extremely happy to oblige and feels ecstatic to be part of the build-up. Bradley shares similar qualities to Mayweather and that’s exactly what McGregor needs at his training camp. Bradley is also backing McGregor in the upcoming event, stating that it will be a tough match but he loves McGregor’s style, approach, and movement in the ring.
Dashon Johnson was the 2nd fighter revealed as one of McGregor’s sparring partners. The twenty-nine-year-old is a UFC veteran of two fights in the UFC and a 9-2 in MMA. Although his career didn’t amount to much in his stint at the UFC, he is far greater as a boxer. Johnson has a total of 47 professional bouts and won several regional titles, and is recognised as a gifted gatekeeper as well. His overall record of 22-21-3 might not be the most remarkable in the business, but has carved out a niche as a reliable and trusted sparring partner for world renowned boxers.
Frans Mlambo, nicknamed ‘The Black Mamba’, has also been selected to assist McGregor in the ring for the next two weeks while training for the Las Vegas fight. Mlambo is a professional MMA fighter with a 3-2-0 (Win-Loss-Draw) record.
Jay Byrne is one of the less known fighters in McGregor’s sparring team. Jay Byrne is a 30-year-old manager, soccer player, and professional boxer. The Irish fighter made his debut as a professional boxer just over a year ago and accumulated a 5-2 record in such a short space of time.
Louis Adolphe is another that makes up the team at McGregor’s training camp. This British boxer has been undefeated since he started his professional career in 2014. He currently boasts a 6-0 professional record. The welterweight is 25 year old welterweight with a 175cm reach and a 6 ft frame, making him slightly larger than Mayweather. He greatly relies on technique, footwork, and speed versus power, and this can greatly assist McGregor with quality rounds even if Adolphe doesn’t fight like Mayweather does.
The sixth and final sparring partner is none other than Paulie Malignaggi. Paulie is a boxing commentator and former American professional boxer who started his professional career in 2001 and retired in 2017. He is renowned as a two-weight world boxing champion, holding the WBA welterweight title between 2012 and 2013, and the IBF junior welterweight title between 2007 and 2008. He is well-known for his durability, athleticism, and fast hand speed. He is 173 cm in height with a 178cm reach. He’s professional boxing records consists of 44 fights with 36 wins, and only 8 losses.
After retiring from professional boxing, Paulie joined the McGregor camping team after the announcement of McGregor’s boxing bout against undefeated Floyd Mayweather on August 26, 2017. A sparring session between McGregor and Malignaggi was rumoured to be violent, but Malignaggi quickly disputed the rumours and requested that the full video be released on all social media channels to show exactly what transpired. Malignaggi said he was never knocked down and was only pushed around during the 12-round session. There have since been two short clips released on social media showing footage of McGregor landing multiple punches, and then dropping Malignaggi.