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Coach: Conor McGregor didn't do live wrestling in UFC 189 training camp because of injury

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Despite dispelling doubts over his wrestling ability with a win over Chad Mendes at UFC 189, Conor McGregor was not fully prepared for Mendes' wrestling onslaught.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Question marks loomed over Conor McGregor as he headed into UFC 189 on July 11. Sceptics were vocal over the Irishman's lack of wrestling based opponents in his UFC tenure, but McGregor dispelled any doubts when he scored a TKO over Chad Mendes in the second round.

The wrestling powerhouse used his commanding takedowns to stifle McGregor's onslaught of strikes, but a persevering McGregor got back up to his feet and continued with the assault - eventually wilting his American opponent in the dying stages of the second round.

All of this, coach John Kavanagh claims, after little wrestling preparation in the gym. Citing a knee injury, the SBG head coach explains how McGregor was unfit to drill hard wrestling practice.

"I've gotta be honest, when we were walking out to this fight it was in the back of my mind that we haven't done a single round of live wrestling," Kavanagh said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I had my eyebrows raised and thought, let's see what happens."

McGregor was originally scheduled to face reigning champion Jose Aldo in the main event, but the Brazilian withdrew from the fight at the last minute due to a rib injury suffered in training. Aldo's late withdrawal meant that McGregor had just over two weeks to prepare for a completely different opponent. Chad Mendes -- a two-time NCAA All-American -- is lauded for his excelling wrestling ability. Feared as the most devastating wrestler in the featherweight division, Kavanagh was worried over the stylistic change but claims his star student had no concerns.

"When I spoke to Conor and I saw this absolutely unshakeable confidence, I knew it was the right decision," Kavanagh said. "I knew it didn't matter who it was going to be.

"For Conor to have done what he did and accepted that change, I think that showed a championship mentality."

Due to concerns over a knee injury, McGregor abstained from heavy wrestling in the Ultimate Fighter training centre and got his first taste of full contact takedowns in UFC 189's main event.

"That was the first full test on the knee and he flew through it," Kavanagh said. "He was able to deal with some oppositions. There were some scrambles, there was a lot of wrestling and it held up and there's nothing wrong. So we're 100 percent confident that it's perfect now."

McGregor will coach opposite Urijah Faber for the latest series of The Ultimate Fighter which goes live on September 9th, but will eventually meet with Jose Aldo in a new title unification bout once the Brazilian's ribs are healed. Kavanagh feels as though McGregor is the true champion.

"I feel like he's the champion," Kavanagh said. "He's done pretty special things in the UFC in quite a short period of time. He's been willing to accept any challenge. I don't know if there's many fighters with what he had in front of him with two weeks notice would have accepted [it]."