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Coach: McGregor’s return fueled by love, not revenge

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It’s all about mindset, and Conor McGregor’s mindset is locked into regaining the love of fighting he apparently lost somewhere along the way over his past few fights.

We’re two weeks removed from UFC’s massive return headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone and up until a few days ago everything was pretty quiet from Camp McGregor. That seems to be changing, but it’s a very controlled situation: McGregor and his team are uploading interviews via his own outlet, The Mac Life.

That means no hardball questions regarding what the Irish sports star has been up to over the past week. No pushing back on any claims at all, really. For those howling about the illegitimacy of sports media and how it’s all just PR fluff these days, these interviews aren’t gonna do much. But perhaps we can glean a little truth or perspective from these carefully manicured answers.

Answers like ‘Conor McGregor is the best he’s ever been!’ That’s the drumbeat from everyone training with “The Notorious,” but it’s worth noting that’s what they said leading into the Nurmagomedov fight. Now we’re learning that camp was a complete mess with no structure or consistency. So what makes this camp better than that one? Here’s McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh speaking to The Mac Life.

“I think this is the best he’s ever been. And the reason I’m saying that is the consistency over the past few months,” he said. “It’s a real return to smiling on the mat, enjoying it, having fun. And it’s cliche to say, but a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter. He just seems really happy with his life and his training and with the environment that we have here and competing again and having those exchanges and so on and so on. I think this is going to be the best he’s ever been.”

When asked if McGregor was driven in the same way he was after the first Nick Diaz fight (which ended in Conor tapping 4:12 into round 2)...

”I think it’s even more, because the Diaz fight was ‘Okay, we’re going to train hard for four months, I want to get that rematch, I shouldn’t have lost the way I lost.’ That was the motivation and the mentality. This one is different because it’s not a rematch against Khabib, it’s just ‘a fight’ if you want to look at it that way. It’s more a return to really loving all aspects of it and trying to make the training around that, around the passion he had around getting ready for any fight, let’s say, or the Aldo fight when training was fun, experimenting with techniques and looking for new moves.”

“So it’s different than the motivation being revenge,” Kavanagh concluded. “The motivation here seems to be love, and love is stronger than revenge.”

Both Kavanagh and the interviewer cracked up a little about how cheesy that answer was, but McGregor’s coach stood by it as being true. But even with love fueling McGregor, his coach is keeping things conservative regarding a prediction on how Conor vs. “Cowboy” is going to go.

”I think it’s going to be late,” he said. “I can see it being in the championship rounds. That’s the mindset that I have and being ready for that. Now, he could go in and spark him in seconds, but there’s a little extra weight involved so I’d think in the later rounds.”