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'There will be adversity in this fight... There will be times where Conor is feeling that pressure'

John Kavanagh says his fighter’s upcoming bout will be far from straightforward.

Conor McGregor will fight Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 next month.
Conor McGregor will fight Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 next month.
Image: Isaac Brekken

JOHN KAVANAGH HAS warned that Conor McGregor’s upcoming fight with Eddie Alvarez is unlikely to be straightforward.

Reflecting on Alvarez’s defeat of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night 81 however, Kavanagh feels his fighter will be better suited to challenge the 32-year-old American compared with his previous opponent, Nate Diaz.

Speaking at the One Zero Conference at the RDS in Dublin today, Kavanagh said: “The Pettis fight would be a great one to look at for a stylistically similar matchup. Eddie’s gameplan was pretty simple; try and stifle him, keep him pinned against the fence, the difference between Pettis and Conor is that he’s so good with his hands.

“Pettis needs space so he can do those kicks. Kicks need range, Conor can knock you out in a phonebox. He develops incredible amounts of power in a very short space and that’s what I feel will be the difference in this fight.

There will be adversity in this fight, I have no doubt there will be times where Conor is feeling that pressure and is getting pinned up against the fence. It’s a fight at the end of the day and Eddie is a UFC champion and he is it for a reason.

“He’s been around this sport for a long, long time and as I say we’re hoping for the best but we’re preparing for the worst so we’re ready for a tough 25 minutes. I’d be very surprised if it goes the full 25 minutes — I’m sure Eddie is going to have his moments, that’s how fights are, but ultimately I have absolutely no doubt that Conor’s hand will be raised.”

John Kavanagh John Kavanagh pictured at the One Zero conference today. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

The Dublin-born coach also spoke of how McGregor’s camp were at times reluctant to focus too specifically on an opponent’s style, given that so many of his rivals have withdrawn in the lead up to big events.

Conor is so used to fighters pulling out on him that in his [last] 14 pro fights, there’s a 50% rate of pull outs. It was just a common call, 10 days, 14 days out, and the promoter would ring me and I’d answer saying ‘hey is there a replacement?’ before he’d even say anything.

“It was a common theme so we weren’t able to get very super specific for what we were preparing for. If you’re preparing for Aldo, a fast kickboxer, great takedown defence, and you get very specific about that and then a week out you get a wrestler that holds people down, you couldn’t get more different than those two opponents, but our training style could deal with that change.

“But Diaz proved to be a different character for a number of different reasons. He was so unusual compared to the typical opponent that we did have to re-assess and change, we changed pretty much everything in the lead up for that contest, so it just taught me a different style of coaching that I hadn’t been used to.

I was very adamant that we don’t have to get too specific, we can just keep the training general, our skills will be high enough that we can adapt as the fight goes on. I learned that we couldn’t in that contest and I’m not going to repeat the same mistake. I don’t mind errors, my fighters don’t mind errors, I don’t mind mistakes, but what really annoys me is repeating them so I wasn’t going to repeat that.

“We changed things around and thankfully it worked out. The Eddie Alvarez fight is a lot more of the standard that we’re used to. He fights with a traditional stance and he’s very similar to a bunch of guys that Conor has already beat. Diaz was the anomaly, a bit of blip that had to be trained in a certain way for, but I think the Eddie fight will be a return to our more traditional style of training.”

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Paul Fennessy

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