Not only did Conor McGregor do what no other Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter has ever done before inside the Octagon, becoming the first person to hold two different division titles at the same time, but he made it look rather effortless. Indeed, his knockout of Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in UFC 205's pay-per-view (PPV) event this past weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2016) at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. (see it again here), was a total blowout.
That’s not because Team Alvarez underestimated the Featherweight champion, according to John Kavanagh, McGregor’s head trainer. On the contrary, Kavanagh claims that it isn't until an opponent gets tagged by "Notorious" that they realize there wasn’t anything they could have done to prepare for it.
"I think it’s more talk," he said on "The MMA Hour" earlier this afternoon. "I think there is no doubt these guys did whatever they could in training -- they absolutely killed themselves. You see Eddie with a black eye eight days out, that’s sparring hard, so the work was put in. I just think it’s a major surprise to them when the first shot lands."
That said, in team McGregor’s preparations, Kavanagh -- who only missed his prediction for the finish by an impressive four seconds -- pulled out all the stops to get "Notorious" ready for his history-making performance, which he described as a "massive mismatch."
"To be honest, and I was thinking about how I was going to say this because I know it will be taken out of context, and it’s absolutely no comment on Eddie’s personality as a person -- he seems like a great guy, solid fighter. But, if we are just looking at skill sets, going in -- and it was a reason I was able to take it all in during the week -- but this was a massive mismatch," declared Kavanagh.
"Again, that’s nothing against him as a person, I’m just saying skills-wise. I really felt this would look worse than the (Marcus) Brimage fight. I knew it’d be that style of fight that he would always be too late, always getting hit and fall apart. I did think his toughness would take him into the second round. But, skills-wise, I just thought it was a massive mismatch. And I will humbly offer the evidence of the fight that it warranted that. All of our people back home, all of our sparring partners we all saw this thinking, ‘This is going to be a bad fight. This is going to look terrible.’"
For Kavanagh, when comparing the Alvarez fight to the two against Nate Diaz in which Conor lost one at UFC 196 before getting payback at UFC 202, the Stockton slugger offered more challenges.
"Where as Nate (Diaz) was so interesting because style and size wise. It wasn’t a massive size difference, but, it was enough to make it interesting and enough to offer new problems. But, this one, unorthodox, head down kind of brawler with a simple style of wrestling, not very complicated. I just felt like you have to bring a hell of lot more than that to the plate to trouble what I think is the best fighter on the planet right now."
As for what's next for McGregor, the multi-division champion will take some time off to welcome in a new member to his family next year. After that, Kavanagh says he'd like to see McGregor stay at 155 pounds to defend that title. That is, of course, if UFC's new owners, WME-IMG, can meet his financial demands.