Kavanagh: Do you want to see Conor’s best performances or hear his best soundbites?

jkandconorwalkingbig

In his column with The42.ie yesterday, John Kavanagh spoke about the plight currently facing UFC featherweight champion, Conor McGregor. Kavanagh appeared perplexed that the UFC were willing to jeopardise the SBG fighter’s chances by forcing him to attend media duties, instead of focusing on training for the biggest event of the year:

“Having put a meticulous plan in place for Conor’s preparations for the fight, this didn’t suit us at all… Going over to Vegas would have completely destroyed that. Do you want to see Conor’s best performances or hear his best soundbites?

A fair point from a neutral perspective, assuming that the sheer amount of promotion McGregor engages in can’t be conducive to a well-versed training regimen. But as we’ve learned over the course of this latest drama, the UFC don’t see it like that. Since the news broke, Dana White has argued that every fighter on the card – including McGregor’s opponent, Nate Diaz – turned up for the presser except the Irishman. Kavanagh offered a fairly definitive rebuttal to White’s comments:

“Nate Diaz could have driven there from his house. Conor lives in Dublin and is currently training in Iceland, which isn’t quite as close to Las Vegas as Stockton is. At least it wasn’t when I last checked.”

His statement makes it difficult not to sympathise with McGregor, given that this would have affected his preparations to a far greater degree than most. The travel and time zones involved meant McGregor would take far longer to get back to the grind than Diaz, who trains much closer to Vegas. The McGregor camp also tried to negotiate a compromise with the UFC but were met with the same outcome, as Kavanagh continued:

“He offered to do a press conference in New York instead, which would be halfway for both him and Diaz. It’s a six-hour flight, you could do it in a weekend. But that was rejected by the UFC. It was all or nothing. Conor went with nothing.”

McGregor’s ingenuity and relentless nature in promoting fights, as well as marketing himself and the company, may lead some corners to believe that this has become the main aspect of “the game” for the polarising Dubliner. Far from the case, in Kavanagh’s eyes, whose view was somewhat refreshing in a time where MMA is being likened to WWE by many casual viewers:

“However, we felt that going to Vegas at this juncture would be detrimental to Conor’s preparations and his chances of winning an extremely important fight… Nothing is more important than the contest.”

Kavanagh went on to further rationalise his fighter’s actions with a rather tongue-in-cheek metaphor, alluding to why McGregor deserves what some would call “special treatment” from the UFC:

“If one employee is bringing in the same amount of money as all the other employees combined, he’s going to get a bigger office. That’s life.”

As for the chances of a surprise return to the flagship event of 2016, Kavanagh was unoptimistic but maintained that it would still be business as usual in terms of preparation:

“At this stage, I think the only way Conor will feature at UFC 200 is if he’s a late replacement for someone else. We’re still training twice a day, aiming for 9 July.”

Love him or hate him, the “Notorious” is undoubtedly the biggest star in MMA at the moment and it’s hard to deny that UFC 200 would be a grander spectacle with his name on the guest list.

Salon-quality hair and a right foot that could open a tin of peas. Twitter: @ahayde7