Coach John wins 'Philips Manager of the Month'.


Another big step forward for MMA in Ireland as Coach Kavanagh is recognised with the Philips 'Manager of the Month' award.

"Philips Ireland today 14th January 2016 named John Kavanagh, coach to Conor McGregor as Manager of the month for December 2015.

Coach Kavanagh runs the Straight Blast Gym and martial arts academy more commonly known as SBG.

On 12th December in Las Vegas, McGregor faced the highly rated Brazilian Jose Aldo in a re-fixed bout for the UFC Featherweight Title. Aldo, who held the title for ten years, was defeated in just 13 seconds of the first round. This was the fastest finish in UFC world title fight history."

John Kavanagh is pictured with Mark Kelly Philips Ireland receiving the Manager of the Month award for December.

Coach John nominated for MMA Coach of the Year!


We're incredibly proud to announce that SBG head coach John Kavanagh has been nominated for Fighters Only Magazine "Coach of the Year". 

If you feel John deserves your vote, head to to give him your support. (very quick registration required). Thanks!

To be the only European coach nominated and even mentioned in the same breadth as the other nominees is a huge honour.
— John Kavanagh

What Conor will do at UFC 197 will never happen again.


via, by John Kavanagh

THIS PAST WEEKEND marked the beginning of Conor McGregor’s eight-week training camp for his next challenge.

Less than three months after taking just 13 seconds to take the featherweight belt from Jose Aldo, Conor will face lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 197 in Las Vegas on Saturday, 5 March.

There was another option on the table at lightweight but this is the fight we wanted because it will be the first time any fighter has held two UFC belts simultaneously. BJ Penn tried but was unable to manage it, but I suppose if there’s one thing Conor enjoys doing more than knocking people out, it’s breaking records.

Will a challenger ever beat a champion again in just 13 seconds? I sincerely doubt it. I also believe it’s very unlikely – as long as weight classes remain as they are — that any fighter will be able to replicate what Conor will achieve at UFC 197, by being in possession of two UFC belts at the same time.

The elephant in the room in this situation, of course, has been Frankie Edgar. If Conor’s next fight was announced as being against Frankie, there would be a lot of complaints about him cutting too much weight and being too big for the rest of the 145lbs guys. People would also claim that he was running from Rafael dos Anjos.

Instead, they’ll say he should be staying at featherweight and that he’s afraid of Frankie. But as I’ve said many times before, it’s great that questions are being asked because answering them is what sport is all about. The day there are no more questions being asked of you is the day you’re no longer relevant.

No matter who Conor’s next opponent was going to be, people would complain. There’s no getting away from that. There are boxes to be ticked and, by the time Conor retires, he’ll have addressed them all. But they can’t all be done at the drop of a hat. We can only take it one at a time. Rafael dos Anjos is next. After that, maybe Frankie Edgar will get his chance at UFC 200 on 9 July. We’ll see.


I know Frankie is eager to get his shot, and he will. It’s not unusual for a champion to wait until the summertime to defend their belt — there are plenty of recent examples — so perhaps that’s when Frankie’s time will come. Look at this as a warm-up fight, albeit a dangerous one against the lightweight champion. Conor could fight Frankie in the summer, but in the meantime he’s taking another fight.

On average, Jose Aldo defended the featherweight title once every seven months. It would be a seven-month gap between Conor’s fight with Frankie, but I don’t recall Jose having to deal with the same amount of accusations of holding the division up. This might not be the case for other fighters, but due to Conor’s level of activity, he can afford to hold two belts and defend them regularly.

Conor has been cutting down to 145lbs since he was 16. He’s now 27 so it will be nice to take a break from that weight-cut. We’ve done it plenty of times before and we’ll do it again. Funnily enough, the last weight-cut — for the Aldo fight — was probably the best one yet thanks to the help of George Lockhart, who’s on board again for this fight. He’s part of the team now. You’ve seen Conor on salads… now watch what he’s like on steak.

It just allows us to focus even more on training and less on cutting weight. I think people will be surprised too when they see him standing beside these guys and they realise that even at lightweight, Conor is a pretty big guy.

And maybe the pursuit of belts won’t stop there either. I’ve said from the beginning that welterweight may not be out of the question. One of Conor’s main sparring partners, Gunnar Nelson, is a welterweight, so Conor is very used to that feel. I would not be at all surprised if we’re preparing to go for a third belt a year from now.


Dos Anjos has looked more comfortable with his striking in his last few fights so I think he’ll have a level of comfort on his feet, which he’ll want to test against Conor. If so, he’ll end up leaning into shots and being hit hard and early.

I believe this will be another one that won’t see the end of the first round. If dos Anjos manages to survive the first exchange, he’ll become a panicked grappler. Should that happen, I’m looking forward to people getting an opportunity to see just how comfortable Conor is in that regard.

This is a huge fight because of the historical significance of what’s at stake and I expect Conor to add to his legacy of breaking records. What will happen on 5 March will never happen again. It’ll be something for the record books. To say I’m excited is to put it mildly.

- John Kavanagh

Coach Kavanagh: How to Train Like Conor McGregor



Dublin’s famed SBG Ireland gym currently hosts a full generation of seasoned MMA athletes who have each found their feet on the sport’s grandest stage, with the likes of Aisling Daly,Gunnar Nelson, Paddy Holohan, and of course, UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor. The eyebrow raising ability of McGregor has transcended the sport of mixed martial arts with his seemingly revolutionary approach to the game on a physical and mental level, supported by coach John Kavanagh. recently spoke with Kavanagh to discuss if the results of McGregor’s effective approach to technical development can be replicated in future generations of SBG up and comers.

Kavanagh suggested that the toughest and most influential aspect to develop is that of the mind and complete self confidence. On the other side, there is physical and technical development; and he believes that the physical ability of Conor McGregor can indeed be replicated within amateur athletes for future generations. (Continued below)

Click here to read the FULL article on

Cathal Pendred puts his support behind important MAN UP Campaign

MAN UP is a SAFE Ireland campaign.Launched in 2012 and has been growing in support for four years now. MAN UP is a campaign with a simple but powerful focus. It’s about men showing leadership, pride and courage to stand against domestic violence. To challenge the abuse of women and children.

Straight Blast Gym fighter Cathal Pendred is helping SAFE Ireland this year to promote the positive role that men can play in raising awareness about, and stopping, domestic violence. Please take a look at the campaigns new video below. For more information visit &

Why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Is A Great Sport for Unathletic Children

As a child and teenager, I loved sports, but was simply not athletic. I couldn’t dribble a basketball or shoot a layup. I was the right fielder in little league baseball that struck out a lot. I did try wrestling in high school, but was pretty mediocre and quit after losing two-thirds of my matches and not being able to handle the head coach’s constant yelling. For a very long-time I was very self-conscious about my lack of athleticism, but did enjoy biking, hiking, weight lifting and other physical activities that would not expose my lack of coordination and how funny I looked when I am running. As I grew into adulthood, I discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in my mid-thirties and finally found a sport where for once I showed some promise and developed into a solid competitor at the White Belt Masters level.

Like many in the BJJ community, training has been very beneficial for me in boosting my self-confidence, physical health, setting and reaching goals, meeting new people, and overcoming adversity. These experiences and benefits are important in the development of people of all ages, especially adolescent children. Sports can be a great vehicle for human development, but many unathletic children miss out on these experiences and withdraw to watching television, playing video games, eating a poor diet and living a sedentary lifestyle. This is frustrating for both children and their parents. The children want to be more social and active, but poor performances in youth team sports can lead to being ostracized by their teammates and coaches. For parents, they want their children to be active, social, and accepted by peers.

From my experiences as an unathletic youth and a Jiu Jitsu practitioner as an adult, I believe Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the ideal sport for unathletic children for numerous reasons that include

1. Self Defense: Unathletic children tend to be targets for bullies. BJJ has been proven as one of the best self-defense styles since it relies more on technique and leverage over size and strength. Traditional karate styles like Tae Kwon Do have been marketed as children’s self-defense, but the striking does require speed, coordination, and athleticism, which may make karate less effective for unathletic practitioners. In Jiu Jitsu, clinching, securing top position, and being able to escape a pinned down position relies more on coaching and drilling than athletic skills.

2. Physical Activity: Jiu Jitsu classes are great workouts for children. There are warm ups, drilling, rolling/sparring, and games being played during classes. The children will definitely break a sweat and will be moving their bodies for an hour each class.

3. Quality Coaching: In many youth sports, the coaches are volunteers and usually consist of the parents of the best athletes on the team. The quality of the coaching can vary and the focus of the coaching leans towards developing the athletes with the most potential. This continues into high school varsity sports, where the coaches’ attention is focused on the starters and winning games. The backups and practice players usually do not get much attention or development time. In BJJ, the parents are paying for the coaching and the coaches have an incentive to provide strong coaching and creating a fun and safe atmosphere in order to maintain the parents’ business.

4. Learn at Your own Pace: In BJJ, there is no pressure to learn a set of plays in time for Saturday’s game like there is in other youth and high school varsity sports. Kids can learn and develop at their own pace without the pressure of being rushed into a competition and win immediately. The culture and instruction style of many BJJ schools is that learning and improving in BJJ is a long term process that doesn’t need to be rushed.

5. Playing Time at Each Class: In youth and high school varsity sports, the nonstarters get little to no playing time in games and less coaching and development during practices. In BJJ classes, students learn together, drill together and all receive close to equal repetitions in drilling and attention from instructors. So your child is participating and improving each class instead of just watching other students get better. Also, if your child does want to compete, there is no cap on the number of children that can be entered into a BJJ tournament division.

6. Year Round Sport: Depending on where you live, most sports are seasonal and once the season ends, so does the children’s playing and development in the sport for the rest of the year. BJJ training has no seasons, allowing children to train throughout the year which aids in their continually development in the sport.

7. Teaches Valuable Life Lessons: We live in an instant gratification society. In BJJ, it is a slow, long grind. Breakthroughs could come after a long period of time of drilling, experimenting, and refinement. It could come in a practice roll where a sweep, submission, or escape finally happens after many failures. Children will learn humility, patience with themselves and persistence in continually working through and solving problems.

8. Develop Own Style: In basketball and soccer you need speed and agility. In football, you need size and strength. In most sports, you are learning a rigid pIay book with little room for creativity. In BJJ, you don’t need to have speed, agility, and athleticism in order to develop an effective style or set of moves that work well. If you are slow and unathletic, you can develop a slow, grinding, pressure game that neutralizes opponents’ speed and athleticism. If a child is small, he or she will be matched with training partners and opponents that are a similar size and will be able to develop an identity over time.

9. Individual Sport: When you drop a ball, miss a shot, or make a bad throw in team sports, there is the awkward walk back to the bench or dugout towards upset teammates. That is an uncomfortable position for many unathletic children. Playing in an individual sport like Jiu Jitsu removes the pressure of letting down teammates while teaching a child that they can problem solve and overcome challenges on their own. This aids in building character and self-confidence in children.

10. Interaction with Other Children: The kids classes provide positive interaction with other children. Most BJJ schools have rules and reinforce a culture of respect among students. Bullying and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated by the coaches. Children will be learning and drilling moves together. So while it is an individual sport, during classes they will have the opportunity to collaborate with other children to help each other learn and develop.

If you are interested in enrolling your child into a Children’s Jiu Jitsu program, use Google to search for programs in your area. Most schools will offer a free class for your child. Definitely take advantage of the free class to see if the program is a good fit for you and your child. Also, ask the instructor as many questions as possible about class schedule, curriculum, student development, safety, contract length and terms, and the number of instructors and children in the classes.

If you're interested in enrolling your child for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes, please take a look at our Kids Programs for more info.