In the lead up to his much-anticipated title fight against Jose Aldo, which was supposed to go down at UFC 189 this past Saturday (July 11, 2015), Conor McGregor didn't drill any wrestling in his training camp because of a knee injury.
That's according to head McGregor's head trainer, John Kavanagh, who also said McGregor didn't do an sparring, either.
And it's not like needed the wrestling, anyway, as Aldo -- who is predominantly known for his striking -- rarely digs into his toolbox to use his wrestling. But, when Chad Mendes -- an All American wrestler -- stepped in to replace an injured Aldo against "Notorious," the game completely changed.
At least to the public, as McGregor didn't think much of the switch, vowing to stay on the card and take out whoever was in his way. But, once the action got started, it was clear just how much he lacked in the wrestling department, as Mendes dumped him on his back in a matter of seconds (see it).
Something that could (or could not) be attributed to the lack of training.
"Well, it's not come up yet, but I am going to tell you. We didn't do one live round of MMA training or wrestling for this training camp because Conor had an injury. We weren't able to train at full pace. I've gotta be honest, when we were walking out to this fight it was in the back of my mind that we haven't done a single round of live wrestling. I had my eyebrows raised and thought, 'let's see what happens.' And he, Conor, was laughing. The injury is healed now, but it wasn't until about two weeks before the fight that we felt it was 100 percent. But, we still didn't want to do full pace to exasperate it. Really, the first round of full wrestling was done in that fight. His timing a little bit on the sprawl and dealing with the shot was not quite there. It started getting better as the fight went on. Do I think a rematch if it does happen down the line would be different? Yes, for both of them. I don't want to go into the injury too much, it's fine now. That was the first full test on the knee and he flew through it. He was able to deal with some positions. There were some scrambles, there was a lot of wrestling and it held up and there's nothing wrong. So we're 100 percent confident that it's perfect now."
Indeed, many have declared that a fight would go differently in Mendes' favor with a full training camp, something Kavanagh says could be said for McGregor if he was 100 percent healthy.
Nevertheless, despite being banged up and training-deprived, "Notorious" made the proper adjustments and went on to knockout "Money" in round two of their title fight to become the interim Featherweight champion. If you ask Kavanagh, though, McGregor is the one true 145-pound king for not pulling out and passing his first title fight with flying colors.
"For Conor to have done what he did and accepted that change, I think that showed a championship mentality. I feel like he's the champion. He's done pretty special things in the UFC in quite a short period of time. He's been willing to accept any challenge. I don't know if there's many fighters with what he had in front of him with two weeks notice would have accepted [it]."
McGregor will likely take on Aldo in his next outing to unify the titles in early 2016. But, not before he goes head-to-head with Urijah Faber as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 22 (read more on that here).
He better be ready ... Aldo is motivated to "smash" him after everything that has transpired.