It's not unusual for a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to register a poor performance after enduring a difficult weight cut, but it now appears the best of the best can also be felled by not having a difficult weight cut, as evidenced by Conor McGregor's submission loss to Nate Diaz.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It seems the decision to abandon the featherweight class for a chance to throw hands at lightweight -- then eventually welterweight when Rafael dos Anjos took a vacation from his foot -- left "Notorious" fat, lazy, and drunk on luxuries not afforded to starving reptiles. Think Siddhartha only much, much paler.
Coach John Kavanagh emotes to The 42:
Not having to cut weight for the fight against Diaz was supposedly helpful, but in hindsight it was undoubtedly a hindrance. Cutting weight may not be much fun, but it does serve as a reminder that you're preparing for a fight. It focuses the mind and has been an enormous part of what we've been doing. Without that ritual, things were just weird. It left us all in an unusual state of mind. The routine we had established was suddenly absent. The need to cut weight gets the fighter in the zone and lets them know that a fight is on the horizon. If a person is starving, they're in survival mode. It focuses the mind and taps into the reptilian part of the brain. When Conor is cutting weight, he views his opponent as an obstacle in the way of his next meal. It's a primal thing. On the other hand, when you've eaten a good dinner, all you want to do is relax in front of the TV. The fire in your belly is replaced by food. Being stuffed isn't conducive to maintaining a competitive mindset.
Even for his next welterweight fight, Conor's diet will be strict. We've accepted now that it's an important element of his preparation, so you can expect him to come in on weigh‐in day at around 165lb. No cheesecakes this time! It will be nutrition geared specifically towards performance.
Conor's loss was a lesson and it's one that our next wave of fighters, in particular, will be able to learn from. He's blazing a trail for the younger fighters coming through. They can study his journey and benefit from every step.
There were mistakes made and, as the coach, I'll take ownership of them. We should have travelled out sooner. We should have maintained the same level of meticulous preparation and competitive mindset that we had become accustomed to. We won't be tucking into desserts, driving around in flashy cars and fucking about. Well, maybe there will still be nice cars, but anything that negatively impacts our usual level of preparation will be knocked on the head. It has to be, and I know it will be, because nobody is more critical of Conor than Conor himself.
In unrelated news, stock in Cheesecake Factory just dropped eight percent.
I think what's being overlooked here, at least in my worthless and uneducated opinion, is how masterful McGregor looked in round one of their UFC 196 showdown. Diaz was never out of the fight, but the cement-fisted Irishman was clearly winning the stand-up battle and may have scored a finish if he wasn't so busy clowning around and putting on a show.
Then he got tagged and eventually bagged and well, I suppose it's easier to blame creme brûlée than accept your opponent was the better man.
The good news is, McGregor will have a chance to put all of this in his rear-view mirror when they run it back in the UFC 202 main event, which takes place this August in "Sin City." And now Diaz, who accepted their first go-round on super short notice, will have a full and proper training camp.