It sounds like Conor McGregor and his head coach are very much on the same page when it comes to UFC 196 and the problems at the root of the featherweight champions first loss under the Zuffa banner. Immediately following the bout, McGregor talked about his loss, saying that his own inefficiency and the exhaustion it caused were at the root of his downfall. McGregor looked to be fighting strong and full steam ahead against Nate Diaz through round 1, landing his shots, and consistently doing damage. But as the second got underway, he started to flag, and the snapping counters that Nate had been landing throughout the fight started piling up.
Recently SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh went on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, to talk about what went down in McGregor's charge at the welterweight division (transcript via MMAFighting):
"Yeah, a lot of things were working," Kavanagh said during an appearance on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I did think that he maybe was loading up a little on his left hand, especially when you're facing a same stance fighter. Nate's kind of good at using that shoulder roll that boxers do to defend themselves. A lot of big lefts that weren't catching him flush. They were kind of bouncing off his shoulder, or Nate was moving with the shot so weren't having the impact they'd have on an opposite stance fighter or someone who wasn't as highly skilled as Nate."
"If there was something to critique or take away from that fight, I think Conor almost immediately said it much better than I'm able to say, is that he was inefficient with his job and Nate was efficient. And that's what I was trying to get across, and that's what we saw happening. He kind of blew himself a little bit trying to take his head off with every single left hand rather than just landing it. Maybe I could have stole his own phrase and told him to keep it flowing."
Kavanagh praised Nate's phenomenal cardio as well, saying he knew McGregor might be in big trouble when he staggered back after eating a left hand:
"I think there was a good left cross, and it kind of stumbled Conor back," he said. "I kind of think it was really exhaustion at this stage. He looked really, really tired.
"At that stage it was clear that he was very, very tired. And if there's one thing you're never going to say about a Diaz brother is that he gets tired. He just has that incredible ability to just keep going and keep pushing themselves. They [Nate and Nick] are phenomenal athletes, the two of them. So I thought that tiredness and him being pushed back was when I was worried."
After this loss it looks like McGregor is headed back to featherweight to defend the 145 lb title. That will bring it's own stream of questions: How long will he stay there? Can he safely make the weight? And just who is he going to fight? Jose Aldo, or Frankie Edgar?