ONE OF THE biggest challenges I’ve faced while coaching Conor McGregor was trying to get him to embrace the art of grappling. To love it.
I couldn’t inspire him to do so, but Joseph Duffy did. Conor’s last defeat was against Duffy — you may have heard about it — by submission in November 2010. Conor wasn’t completely new to jiu-jitsu then, but he certainly had a new approach to it after that fight. He really lost himself in grappling afterwards.
Once Conor devotes himself to something, it’s scary the level of focus he can bring to it… no matter what it is. It’s not something I’ve seen many other people with the ability to do. Conor is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu now, and he’s given hell to every black belt he’s trained with.
When Conor lost to Duffy, he was doing jiu-jitsu, but doing it almost begrudgingly. Because he had to. But afterwards, within three or four months, he was doing it because he loved it. Trying to get Conor to love it was always the challenge, but eventually he developed the same love for grappling that he had for striking.
It’s now four-and-a-half years since that loss. In that same time-frame, BJ Penn went from doing no jiu-jitsu at all to winning the black-belt World Championships. Gunnar Nelson made similar progress. You can make big leaps in that kind of period...
READ ON HERE
Conor McGregor headlines the UFC event in Boston next week and while the Irish star believes he will win in less than two minutes against Dennis Siver, his coach is confident it won't last that long.
The event has a taken on an Irish feel as McGregor is joined on the card by two of his team-mates from the Straight Blast Gym in Dublin, Cathal Pendred and Paddy Holohan. Cornering all three fighters on the night will be the SBG headcoach and founder, John Kavanagh.
Kavanagh turned his back on an engineering career in the early 2000’s to begin coaching fighters. His first gym was a rented garage with some mats on the floor. Today, Kavanagh’s SBG gym is a massive facility with all the equipment and space the modern mixed martial artist requires.
Kavanagh has spent his life fascinated with martial arts and human movement. He was one of the Irish MMA pioneers travelling around the world to compete and corner like-minded Irish warriors who had outgrown the traditional martial arts.
John is also Ireland’s first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and the first Irishman to gold medal at the BJJ European Championships. This year 25 of his students will follow his example and head to Lisbon at the end of January to compete the championships.
Towards the end of the 2000’s the SBG gym started to become the dominant force on the local MMA scene before moving on to bigger things. Cage Warriors world titles followed and at present there are 5 SBG fighters contracted to the UFC with Aisling Daly and Gunni Nelson added to the 3 names mentioned above.
McGregor has said that he expects the contest with Siver to last only two minutes, but Kavanagh will be surprised if it even lasts that long.
"I don't know I think he's (McGregor) wrong to be honest," he said. "I can't see it go past a minute."
Kavanagh also dismissed any notions that McGregor has his sights set firmly on a potential title match with Jose Aldo, adding that his preparation in the gym isn't tailored to specific opponents.
"Conor is in the gym every day and the prep is the same. By no means are we kicking back in the gym with cigars and whiskey and looking past the next fight and towards Aldo."
We caught up with John as he taught a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class in SBG. We discussed the three fighters in action and of course the potential title fight should… or when as John reminded us, Conor wins in Boston.
via Severe MMA
On the second of September 1987 a baby boy was born to one of the many Irish immigrant parents who had made their way to Boston, Massachusetts in search of a new start away from the unhealthy economic climate at home. Like all good Irish parents, they chose to give the baby a nice Irish name. Cathal was the one they decided on.
By the time Cathal turned four, things had started to turn around in the homeland. The Republic of Ireland’s soccer team brightened the country with their heroic displays during the 1990 world cup in Italy and sparked the beginning of a cultural, economic and sporting boom. Cathal and his family came home.
Cathal, though, didn’t take up soccer when he had settled back into life in Dublin. In fact, he went from one sport to another for much of his young life. In his mid-teens, though, he chose rugby. Or more correctly, rugby chose him. Either way, It was a good choice. Cathal’s educational surroundings meant he represented Belvedere college, one of Ireland’s top rugby playing schools. There, his reputation gained was that of a tough tackling, hard hitting bruiser.
The team trained multiple times a week and had the aid of top coaches and nutritionists to achieve peak physical shape. It’s there he learned how to become dedicated as an athlete. The programme he became part of was ultra professional for a school team with a high level of competition between players for a spot on the squad. As a newcomer to the sport, Cathal wasn’t expected to make the team – but he did. It wouldn’t be the last time he beat the odds to pull off the unexpected.
In 2005, his fifth year in school, Cathal was a starter on the Belvedere team which ended a 33 year wait to win the much coveted Leinster senior cup. It was a huge achievement for the individual and the team – but it also marked the end of an era.
Cathal wasn’t offered a way into professional rugby after school. Instead, he was accepted into college in Dublin City University to study analytical sciences. That didn’t matter – the sporting itch was still there.
Prior to college getting underway, Cathal travelled back to America for a summer before the hard study began. Sunny San Diego, California was his destination and that’s where he discovered his new love. Cathal stumbled across a few MMA gyms and gave them a try. He liked it. Eventually he grew to love it. Then he had to come home. The sporting itch was now worse than ever.
When Cathal arrived back in Dublin he had no choice but to look for an MMA gym. And he found one. It was called Straight Blast Gym. That was when his life became hectic. Cathal decided to make a go of his new sport and turned professional after just over a year of practice. He coupled full time study with the life of a dedicated professional mixed martial artist. It didn’t seem to hurt, though. Cathal won nine of his first twelve fights before his school life intersected with sport.
Cathal sat his final college exam in the summer of 2011 in DCU. A week later, he fought against a UFC veteran in the same building in front of 2,000 people. On both occasions he stepped out of the arena a winner.
After his academic days were over Cathal went straight into the workforce. His chosen field was fighting. Again, it was a good choice. Within a year he was a welterweight belt holder in Cage Warriors, Europe’s biggest MMA promotion.
That was only the start. Cathal dreamed of bigger things.
Then the UFC announced a card for Boston – Cathal’s city of birth. One of his teammates, named Conor, was booked to fight on the card. It seemed a no-brainer Cathal would join him. All he had to do was defend his title and the call from the big show would come.
He did just that – beating another UFC veteran with ease in the process. Cathal, with his mother in toe, took the microphone inside the cage and announced his desire to travel back to Boston to fight in front of the world. The crowd agreed. Now it was just a matter of time for the dream fulfilling call to come.
But it never did. The storybook return wasn’t to happen.
Another book was soon to be written, though. Cathal didn’t drop his head. He picked himself up like he always does and got back to training. A call eventually came – but not from where he expected. Cathal would be part of a reality TV show to fight his way into the UFC. It didn’t go that straightforward. He was given a buy into the show’s house before winning his quarter final fight in a typical comeback performance. But in the semi-finals he was on the wrong end of a close decision and went back to Dublin having lost out on his chance.
As luck would have it, the UFC also returned to Dublin at the same time. After starring on the show they made Cathal a part of the extravaganza. As usual, the hard road was the one taken. Cathal was badly hurt in the first round of his Dublin fight. Hurt, but not beaten. Cathal rose from the ashes like he had so many times before and came out on the winning side. Had we expected anything less? That win lead to another a couple of months later to cement his place in the organisation.
Something was still missing, though. The story wasn’t yet rounded out. His dream of returning to Boston was still unfulfilled.
Then, his teammate Conor was booked to fight again. The location – Boston.
Cathal couldn’t be overlooked this time. And he wasn’t.
Next Sunday Cathal’s dream will be fulfilled. For the first time in 23 odd years he will return to the city of his birth. Just like his relations before him, Cathal travels to Boston, Massachusetts for work. The man known for comebacks throughout his life will finally get the chance to come back to the place where it all began.
There has been a lot of speculation with regard to the future of Chris “The Killing” Fields since his TUF 19 exit. Claiming a win over Josh Stansbury to secure his spot in the house, Fields later exited the show after Matt Van Buren took a decision win when the two met in the first round of the knockout stages of the competition.
Midweek it was revealed that the Dubliner had signed for BAMMA with his first fight scheduled for February 21 against dangerous French striker Cheick Kone, who is currently riding a four fight win streak.
With his last competitive outing dating back to June 2013, Fields discussed why he took a step back from the sport after the filming of the UFC reality TV series.
For the full interview, Click HERE..
The Web Summit has today finalised a stellar running order for its inaugural Sport Summit lineup with the additions of Conor McGregor, Cathal Pendred, Philippe Senderos and Rio Ferdinand.
They will join an already box-office cast of athletes, coaches, sport-tech entrepreneurs and influencers in examining the intersection of sport, performance, business and technology at the Web Summit’s Sport Summit which takes place on the 4th and 5th November in the RDS.
UFC star Conor McGregor is one of the most-talked athletes on the planet and was the most searched Irish athlete on Google in 2013. In 2014 the charismatic Dubliner has developed a strong brand presence as he extended his undefeated streak in the UFC to 4-0 and looks in line for a featherweight title fight against Jose Aldo in 2015 should he beat German Dennis Siver in Boston this coming January.
He will be joined by his SBG teammate Cathal Pendred who won Fight of the Night at the Dublin UFC event in July. He followed that up with a victory in Sweden that means he is undefeated in 4 years and 10 fights. Pendred studied Analytical Science in DCU before embarking on an MMA career.
Premier League defender Rio Ferdinand will speak on the 5th November to multi-Emmy award winner Jeremy Schaap. The decorated QPR defender has won 6 Premier League titles and a European Cup; the former England international is also an entrepreneur with his own digital publishing company, a an Ambassador, football expert and programme maker with BT Sport and has recently released his autobiography#2sides.
Philippe Senderos currently plays for Aston Villa and the Swiss National Team. Philippe is a leading investor in SWOL’s Board of Ballers, a group of professional soccer player investors who will help launch their new fantasy mobile platform, Fury 90, and lead a mission to use technology as a force for social good in the world’s beautiful game. He began his career with Arsenal and has had successful stints with AC Milan, Fulham, Everton and Valencia. In addition, Philippe speaks six languages fluently and has competed in the last three World Cups.
Other speakers at the Sport Summit include; The Father of Sabermetrics Bill James in conversation with Soccernomics writer Simon Kuper; Manchester United Group Managing Director Richard Arnold; Former American football quarterback Patrick Steenberge, organizer of the Emerald Isle; Cork hurling legend and GPA Chairman Donal Óg Cusack. Former Chelsea and Barcelona assistant manager Henk Ten Cate; Leland Melvin, former Dallas Cowboy, Detroit Lions and astronaut will be in conversation with David Matthews who is an award-winning journalist, producer and writer of the award-winning book ‘Looking for a Fight.’ David Epstein author of the Sports Gene; Former Tottenham sporting director and Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli; Bret Hedican, the two time Olympian and Stanley Cup winner as well as Pro Skateboarder Tony Hawk and this year’s Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley.
Speaking today, CEO and founder of the Web Summit Paddy Cosgrave said, “Our inaugural Sport Summit is amazing, we have 9 brilliant stages but personally I’m really looking forward to checking out some of the talks at Sport Summit. It’s going to be a real highlight.”
Tickets and further information on the Sports Summit and Web Summit 2014 can be found at www.websummit.net
via Severe MMA
UFC unveiled a massive billboard on Dublin’s O’Connell Street last Thursday in celebration of Conor McGregor’s quick finish of Dustin Poirier at UFC 178. Yet another sign of the unparalleled interest that surrounds the SBG fighter having previously been honoured in two murals in the Irish capital, he discussed how he tries not to get too caught up in the mania that surrounds him.
“It’s surreal,” acknowledged McGregor. “I try not to think too much about these things. There are murals on the side of some buildings and then we had this thing on O’Connell Street. I’m very grateful for all of the support but I try not to think about it.
“This is the beginning, I’m only warming up here. At the end of the day I’m out to get a world title and that’s all that’s on my mind. I feel the support of my nation, I just embrace it and carry on doing what I’m doing.”
The cultural resonance of McGregor seems to be incomparable to any athlete that his country has produced and when asked about it, the Dubliner likened the support he receives to fellow combat sportsman Ricky Hatton.
“I suppose you could compare it to Ricky Hatton and the way his fans were at the height of his career. It’s phenomenal, but again it’s only the warm-up. We’re only doing jumping jacks at the minute.
“I wasn’t expecting the support I got in Vegas. I wasn’t expecting it, I don’t think the UFC were expecting it. Just before I walked on stage to weigh in the day before the fight we were all backstage and all we could hear was ‘Ole, Ole, Ole’ – everyone heard it including my opponent.
“The Irish were in town, it was brilliant. It’s something that I’m very, very proud of and something that I’m grateful for,” he said.
September 28’s bout with Dustin Poirier gave McGregor exactly what he was looking for. The 106 second KO cemented him as one of the most dangerous strikers in UFC’s featherweight division and also propelled him into the title conversation, but the former Cage Warriors double weight champion maintained that he does not believe in celebrating too much after a win.
“I don’t really have any emotion after the fight to be honest. I said I was going to do it and then I done it. I don’t gloat in victory, when the fight is over it’s over. I don’t rub anything in.
“Had it been the other way around, if he had beaten me, you better believe he would’ve rubbed it in my face. I’m not like that. I predicted everything that would happen like I usually do and then it happened. I don’t get excited, it was already a certainty, I celebrated when I signed the contract.
“If you do what you say you’re going to do look what happens? I’ve skipped the queue and now I’m the world title contender, I’m number one contender. My next fight is most likely going to be for the title. After that there will be no catching me,” he exclaimed.
There is a lot of talk with regard to how many fights the Irishman has left at featherweight and when it was put to him McGregor revealed that his ideal trajectory would see him win the featherweight title early next year, defend it in the 50,000 seat Aviva Stadium in the summer before moving up to challenge for the lightweight belt.
“If a 155 fight came up I will take it. I’m only gone 26, I’m not going to be making featherweight my whole career, it’s a tough cut. I do it and I do it professionally, but it’s tough.
“I’ll win the belt, maybe I’ll defend it in the Aviva and then I’ll challenge for the lightweight belt, then who knows? That’s definitely in my plans, you better believe that,” he said.
McGregor stated that the Aviva show would be going ahead in the summer:
“It’s going to be in the summer. I’ll win the belt, possibly in January or February in Vegas and then I’ll defend it in the Aviva in June or July. It’s definitely in the Aviva next summer.”
Finally, McGregor commented on the first losses of his team mates Gunnar Nelson and Paddy Holohan.
He said: “They say a loss can make or break a fighter, but I think the same can be said for a victory. Some people get sloppy on a win and ultimately that can lead to their downfall.
“I can’t answer for Gunni or Paddy, they were both in very tough contests. If you look at the early rounds superior technique was displayed by both Gunni and Paddy, they won the early rounds.
“When energy levels were identical, we were superior technically. Then, when energy levels were down, that’s when the change started happening. It’s not really that much of a big deal – you brush it off and you come back. Defeat is the secret ingredient to success.
“In anything you must lose a million times before you can start to win so this is just part of their journey. They lost this last one, they’ll brush it off and they’ll be back – there’s no doubt about it.”