On August 26, 2017, mixed-martial-arts superstar Conor McGregor will face legendary, undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in one of the biggest sports spectacles of all time. The fight, which will take place as a boxing match, is set to go down at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While McGregor enjoyed success as an amateur boxer in Ireland before his professional career in mixed martial arts, he has never boxed professionally, and is considered a heavy underdog in the fight. Heading into the fight, he has continued to train with the same team that has helped him achieve success in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Members of that team will accompany McGregor to the ring and serve as his cornermen.
McGregor’s corner will consist of McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh, striking coach Owen Roddy, training partner and fellow UFC fighter Artem Lobov and a potential fourth member, in addition to cutman Tommy McCormack. While Kavanagh is McGregor’s head coach when training for the UFC, Roddy will be his first corner for the Mayweather fight, the only one besides his cutman who will be allowed to join McGregor in the ring between rounds.
Here is what you need to know:
1: Roddy Revealed McGregor’s Cornermen in a June 19 Interview
On June 19, Roddy was interviewed by noted MMA journalist Ariel Helwani for the MMA Hour podcast to discuss McGregor’s fight with Mayweather Jr., according to MMA Fighting.
“At the moment it’s going to be me, John, possibly Artem. I think there are four, obviously he’ll have to get his own cut-man and stuff like that. He hasn’t sorted that out just yet. But it will definitely be me, John and Artem at the moment.”
MMA Fighting notes what a lot of people talking about the fight have said: there isn’t much traditional boxing experience in McGregor’s corner. Many feel that puts him at a disadvantage, coming into the fight 0-0 professionally.
“The people in his corner shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to those who know McGregor. He has said over and over again how much his team has meant to him.”
2. Kavanagh Is Considered the ‘Godfather of Irish MMA’
McGregor may be Ireland’s biggest star in the world of MMA, but the road was built by his head coach, Kavanagh (pictured left). Kavanagh was the first man in Ireland to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a skill set that’s become essential in a world of multifaceted fighters who crosstrain in various disciplines. He is also the proprietor of Straight Blast Gym Ireland, which he has grown into the nation’s premier fighting gym.
In mid-2016, he released an autobiography, Win or Learn – MMA, Conor McGregor and Me: A Trainer’s Journey, which tells the tale so far of an Irish MMA empire, and spoke to MMAJunkie about the book.
“It was a kind of interesting time to stop and look back a little about how we went from a group of kids with no real direction, because my own coach is based on the west coast of America, so I got to see him very rarely and it was a long time before Skype or YouTube, so to go from that to being recognized as one of the top teams in the world?” Kavanagh said.
Check out Kavanagh talking about his journey in the video below.
3. Lobov Trained on McGregor’s Team When He Coached a Season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’
Nicknamed “The Russian Hammer,” Lobov has been a longtime training partner of McGregor’s at SBG Ireland, Kavanagh’s gym. As such, it wasn’t a surprise when, after Lobov lost his preliminary fight when attempting to make it into the Ultimate Fighter house on The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber, McGregor retained him; during that season, the coaches, McGregor and Urijah Faber, were allowed to bring back a fighter who’d lost his preliminary matchup.
Given another shot, Lobov advanced to the show’s finale on the strength of three wins. He defeated James Jenkins by TKO did the same to Chris Gruetzemacher in the quarter-finals. Lobov knocked out Julian Erosa in the semi-finals to advance to the show’s finale.
On December 11, 2015, Lobov lost a unanimous decision to Ryan Hall at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale.
4. Roddy has been McGregor’s Striking Coach for More Than a Decade
According to Vice’s Fightland blog, Roddy is Ireland’s “MMA OG.” During his own fighting career, during which he amassed a respectable 11-4 record, many thought he would be the first Irishman to have his hand raised inside the UFC’s trademarked Octagon. But Roddy’s journey ended after a 2012 submission loss to future UFC contender Wilson Reis. In his retirement, he’s shifted his focus to coaching, and his most notable pupil has been McGregor.
“He’s been a major part of my success, anytime I need him Roddy is always there. I’ve learned so much from him.”
“He would 100% be in the UFC today if he was still competing. It breaks my heart that he’s not here today. He is a success without getting here though.”
McGregor’s head coach, Kavanagh, was also quick to praise Roddy.
“I’m sure you’ve heard Conor singing his praises, Owen is a real tactician. Any time Gunni is over he’s really excited to work with Owen on the pads. He has a mastery of them kind of things.”
“He was a fantastic fighter, but I’m glad that he is in a coaching role now.”
5. McCormack Describes Working With McGregor as a ‘Life-changing’ Opportunity
According to TheMacLife, longtime cutman McCormack has also been wrapping fighters hands for years. McCormack says he got his start in boxing, then moved onto MMA before returning to his roots. He was then introduced to Muay Thai, which he describes as an ideal opportunity, given the frequency of cuts in the sport known as “the art of eight limbs.”
The relationship between any fighter and his cornermen is vital, but the bond between the guy who throws the fists and the guy who wraps them is built on trust because, as McCormack points out, in boxing “that’s all we’ve got.” Cornering for McGregor, and the trust required for the role, is not lost on McCormack.
“This is life changing. You can try to win the Lotto every week. You can’t try to do Conor’s corner in the fight against Floyd Mayweather every week.”
However, this life-changing opportunity may never have come McCormack’s way. McGregor’s camp was previously negotiating with legendary cutman Jacob “Stitch” Duran.
Duran detailed how things went down when talking to MMAJunkie, saying he’d been approached by Kavanagh to work for McGregor during the Mayweather fight. Duran sent what he called “a fair proposal” to make himself available for McGregor’s entire camp for a fraction of one percent of McGregor’s earnings (Duran typically works for 2 percent).
“When my attorney and I sent them the proposal, it came back and literally just said that I was too expensive. And they left it at that. There was no counter-offer or anything like that.”