Conor McGregor won the interim featherweight title at UFC 189, but not the fight’s wrestling exchanges, and could a pre-fight injury be a reason why?
McGregor stopped Chad Mendes in impressive fashion at Saturday’s event, but not until after he spent a good portion of the fight, dealing with the decorated wrestler’s top game. McGregor showed a ton of heart and toughness in the fight, as well as his awe inspiring striking. But for some, the performance showed ‘”Notorious” has some deficiencies in terms of his grappling.
Well, following the epic fight, the newly crowned champ relayed that like Jose Aldo, he’s also been dealing with injuries. McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, appeared on “The MMA Hour” recently, and revealed that the featherweight did no live wrestling or hard sparring leading up to the bout. That’s right; zero.
Why’s that? Well, Kavanagh didn’t provide details regarding the nature of the injury, but he did say that McGregor had damaged his knee, and that it wasn’t fully healed until two weeks prior to UFC 189. The Irish coach also said this (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“Really the first round of full wrestling was done in that fight,” Kavanagh said. “His timing a little bit on the sprawl and dealing with the shot was not quite there. It started getting better as the fight went on. Do I think a rematch if it does happen down the line would be different? Yes, for both of them.”
“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.”
Now sure, some will say that the major reason Mendes was able to take McGregor down, is because he’s one of the best wrestlers on the UFC roster. But, hearing McGregor had a knee injury leading up to fight, could mean we have yet to see his grappling pedigree at its best.
McGregor is expected to face the champ Aldo later this year, however, no tentative dates have been set.