One of the most bizarre talking points at UFC 194 was Conor McGregor's movement exercises in the embedded series. "The Notorious" brought in movement expert Ido Portal to help improve his fluidity for the Jose Aldo bout, and it seemed to pay off.
McGregor entered the Octagon with unerring composure, appearing loose and relaxed for the biggest fight of his life. The SBG Ireland product swiftly evaded Aldo's opening attack and KO'd him with a counter left cross in the first thirteen seconds.
Many were sceptical -some critical - of Portal's presence with McGregor in Las Vegas, but the Israeli-born teacher was aware of the attention and humbly dismissed his role in the Irishman's full preparation for the bout.
"Yeah, I became aware of it, but I did not let it diffuse me in any way," he told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "And if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. It was about coming and supporting and putting full throttle behind it, although the amount of work we got to do was minimal for me. A week-and-a-half here, and another few days in Dublin â that's nothing to blame or to really take credit for, yet. They are a small chain of decisions, decisions that must be made right. And I was a part of those decisions. What to take, when to do, what to do, what to not do. It's a huge part, what to not do in training, in a session. Keeping them fresh, keeping them in tune, keeping the body very soft, which is very misunderstood."
Portal, who began studying movement in all its forms after training capoeira for a number of years, was amazed by how composed McGregor was despite all of the negativity surrounding his training choices.
"All this machismo, all this mentality surrounding the Irish fans, the MMA game, I think Conor is very good not letting this distract him. He feels that sharpness and that ability to deliver a very potent dosage...he's superior to the drop coffee that everybody else is drinking. He is the espresso man."
McGregor became fascinated with human and animal movement after tearing his ACL in the Max Holloway fight at UFC Fight Night 26. The Irishman says the injury forced him to become aware of even the tiniest of sensations in his body, which spurred on an entirely new approach to his training regimen.
"I learned a lot more about how important balance is, how important control of the body is," McGregor said about recovering from injury to Esquire. "From the moment I open my eyes, I'm trying to free my body. I'm trying to get looser, more flexible, to gain control. Movement is medicine to me."
It's expected that McGregor will either defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar or challenge Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight championship in his next fight. Portal says he's open to working with the Dubliner again but has received an overwhelming amount of requests from other athletes in the wake of McGregor's stunning KO.
"Right now everything is open, and [McGregor and I] haven't really discussed things yet," he said. "We've worked with some fighters before, and we have a lot of incoming requests from anywhere and everywhere. It was the, this week was the center attention for pretty much everyone. I got some NBA players, some NFL players reaching out. Tony Robbins reached out."
(Transcriptions via Chuck Mindenhall of MMAFighting.com)