John Kavanagh, McGregor’s Coach: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

John Kavanagh, colin mcgregor

Colin McGregor with coach John Kavanagh (Twitter)

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the August 26 blockbuster fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. The fight will be a 12-round boxing match held in the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, NV. The bout has many people expecting huge revenue, possibly the most of any fight in history.

McGregor and his coach, John Kavanagh, have been preparing for the fight for months, even before the fight was officially announced.

Here’s what you need to know about the legendary coach:


1. Kavanagh Fought Professionally From 2000-2003

John Kavanagh, Colin McGregor

Conor McGregor (works out with his head coach John Kavanagh during an open workout for UFC 202 (Getty)

Kavanagh fought in six professional fights during his three-year career and posted a 3-3 record.

Kavanagh’s first fight was at Grapple and Strike 1 in England. He defeated Leighton Hill via submission (triangle choke) 55 seconds into the first round. His last fight was at Ultimate Zone International 2, where he defeated Robbie Oliver via submission (armbar) 2 minutes and 26 seconds into the first round.

Kavanagh, a lifelong martial artist, began studying jiu-jitsu in 1996. In 2002, Kavanagh received his Brazilian Jui-Jitsu (BBJ) purple belt. Kavanagh won gold at the 2005 European BJJ Championship. In 2007, he was awarded his BJJ black belt, becoming Ireland’s first ever BJJ black belt.


2. Kavanagh Founded Straight Blast Gym-Ireland

In 2001, Kavanagh founded Straight Blast Gym – Ireland (SBG). The gym later became part of Straight Blast Gym International, a worldwide association of over 35 gyms. Straight Blast Gym – Ireland has since expanded to multiple locations throughout Ireland.

According to The Mac Life, the gym started in a damp garage with barely enough room to execute a takedown, but has become one of the most respected fight camps on the planet. It has evolved into one of the most high-tech facilities in the world and guides the fight careers of numerous high-level professionals and amateurs.

McGregor is obviously Kavanagh’s most high-profile fighter, but he has also trained UFC standouts Gunnar Nelson, Pady Holohan, Aisling Daly, Cathal Pendred and Artem Lobov. Kavanagh’s success with SBG earned him Coach of the Year in 2016 from The World MMA Awards. Kavanagh was also nominated for the award in 2015. McGregor has won Fighter of the Year in 2015 and 2016. He won International Fighter of the Year in 2015 and 2014.

Kavanagh recently started requiring his fighters to get mandatory brain scans if they want to represent SBG. The idea behind the scans is look look for underlying issues that would preclude fighters from competing for their own safety. Kavanagh also directs amateur fighters to the website, SafeMMA Ireland, to learn more about MRI brain scans.


3. Kavanagh Said UFC Fight Night 46 Was the Best Night of His Life

At UFC Fight Night 46 on July 19, 2014, the UFC came to Dublin, Ireland. It was time for Kavanagh and his fighters to prove they were ready for the big leagues.

First, Kavanagh’s Patrick Holohan defeated American wrestler Josh Sampo via submission three minutes into the fight.

“Paddy Holohan goes out and stops a dangerous guy in the first round, and that kind of set the tone for the whole night,” Kavanagh told UFC.com. “Now everybody’s walking 12-feet tall.”

Next, Cathal Pendred submitted Mike King in the second round, for SBG’s second win out of two tries. Team SBG went up 3-0 after Jiu-Jitsu ace Gunnar Nelson beat Zak Cummings via submission in the second round. Conor McGregor capped off the night with a first round TKO of Diego Brando (video available above). It was by far the greatest night in Irish MMA history, according to UFC.com.

“I don’t think this night will ever be eclipsed,” said Kavanagh. “Four fighters, four wins, main event, co-main event, my mother and father in the crowd. My dad is 64 and he said it was the greatest night of his life. It was special.”


4. Kavanagh Wrote a Book

John Kavanagh book

FacebookJohn Kavanagh’s Win or Learn

Kavanagh wrote the book, Win or Learn, about his life as a trainer and about his time with Conor Mcgregor. Kavanagh went on a tour to promote the book after it was released. An overview, posted on Barnes & Noble, reads as follows:

In Win or Learn, John Kavanagh tells his own remarkable life story – which is at the heart of the story of the extrodinary explosion of MMA in Ireland and globally. Kavanagh has become a guru to young men and women seeking to master the arts of combat. And as the trainer of the world’s most charismatic male MMA star, he has become a magnet for talented fighters fro all over the world. Kavanagh’s portrait of Conor McGregor – who he has seen in his lowest moments, as well as his greatest triumphs – is a revelation. What emerges from Win or Learn is a remarkable portrait of ambition, discipline and persistence in the face of years and years of disappointment. It is a must read for every MMA fan – but also for anyone who wants to understand how to follow a dream and realize a vision.


5.Kavanagh Started Training McGregor For Mayweather Before the Fight Was Announced

Kavanagh and McGregor began training for Floyd Mayweather long before the fight became official, according to ESPN.

“I have a pretty good idea on how I see the fight going,” Kavanagh told ESPN. ” Over the next three of four months, we need to put that plan in action. Drill it. See how it works in the gym. Mix and match the plan until we have it right for the night of the fight…We’ve got to come at this with an MMA striking strategy. Of course, hands only, but maybe there are things we can do from an MMA perspective, which, if people study boxing from the early 20th century, those things were a bigger part in the boxing game than they are today. We’re bringing an old-school boxing approach.”

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