Right after his second-round knockout loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, Conor McGregor blamed his inactivity for the fight’s outcome. It was, after all, his first Octagon appearance a year and some change after UFC 246 when he stopped Donald Cerrone inside 46 seconds.
Not everyone is buying it, Hall-of-Famer Michael Bisping being one of them. “The Count” used his experience of getting choked out by an “off the couch” Georges St-Pierre three years ago as a counter-argument.
But some of combat sports’ notable figures agree with “The Notorious.” Speaking with veteran journalist Gareth Davies in a recent interview, two-time heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury explained how a long layoff affects a fighter’s performance.
“He’s bang on right,” Fury said. “Conor McGregor fought in 2016, then he had two years out of the ring, and then he fought Khabib. And then he had another two years out of the ring, and then he fought Cerrone. And then he had another year out of the ring, and then he fought this guy, Poirier.
“Inactivity kills the cat. No doubt about it. When one man’s been active in fighting and sparring and in camps, and one man’s been on the couch, it’s no good. You lose your timing, you lose your distance, you lose it all. It’s all got to be gained back within camps and within fighting.
“If you had three fights on the bounce and you’ve never been in the ring for three years, the third one you’d be better, ten times better than you were the first time around.”
To further prove his point, Fury traveled back in time to 39 years ago.
“I’ve always known it because I’m a boxing historian. I’ve always known about the inactivity,” he said. “Gerry Cooney when he fought Larry Holmes (in 1982), he was out of the ring for 18 months. And the timing wasn’t there, just wasn’t the same fighter as he should’ve been.”
Inactivity is something “The Gypsy King” knows all too well. Right after pulling a huge upset over Vladimir Klitschko in 2015, Fury went absent for the next three years. He ballooned to 336 pounds during that time-off while drinking, partying 24/7, as he claimed.
It took Fury six fights before he got himself back to world champion status last February when he scored a seventh-round TKO win over Deontay Wilder in their rematch.