Until Colby Covington crashed Kamaru Usman’s open workout and Vitor Belfort signed with ONE the gossip of the week revolved around a potential Conor McGregor–John Kavanagh breakup. Nothing venomous. Just McGregor seeking out training outside the halls of SBG Ireland. John Kavanagh added some juice to those rumors yesterday with this pair of tweets:
Over the years I've had a couple fighters from various gyms message if they could drop in. I always say yes. On rare occasions they then message back an apology that their coach has blocked them coming. I find that weird as I'd never stop someone from my gym learning anywhere.
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) February 28, 2019
Do I think this means McGregor is splitting ties with SBG Ireland the same way TJ Dillashaw split with Team Alpha Male? No. Do I think this means while McGregor doesn’t have a fight on the calendar he’s picking up whatever new skills he can where he can? Probably. I still fully anticipate John Kavanagh to be in McGregor’s corner for his next fight, whenever that may be. That said, it’s still fun to speculate where a megastar like McGregor would end up if he were in the market for a new home base. Let’s meet our candidates.
Jackson Wink MMA
Figured I’d get this out of the way first. This simply wouldn’t work. For starters, on the whole, Jackson Wink just isn’t what it was ten years ago. Secondly, Jon Jones. I don’t doubt being in the same room as the goat wouldn’t have its benefits on the mat. It’s off the mat I’m worried about. You can’t have two of the highest paid stars on the UFC roster under the same roof and expect nothing to go wrong. Jackson Wink ruled out immediately.
This would absolutely never happen. Mostly because one of Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s fall guys would be waiting behind the front doors with a baseball bat ready to kneecap Conor on his first day. However, in terms of the skills these guys bring to the table this definitely wouldn’t be the worst move McGregor could make. Javier Mendez is there to add to the striking game. Then just about every single fighter on the roster shoring up the holes in his wrestling. If it sounds crazy, don’t worry, it is. As much sense as it makes from a training perspective, rest assured McGregor’s pride and AKA’s fade on sight policy would never let him get within ten feet of the front door.
Team Alpha Male
This is my sneaky pick if Urijah Faber would allow it. Conor McGregor loves being the alpha (no pun intended) in the room. He seems to love big brothering people. Exactly the type of situation I could see him settling into. Plus he could pass it off as him going to a wrestling gym when really he’s just going somewhere to tune up slightly more athletic non-strikers than he was at SBG.
It’s not the favorite on the books by any stretch, but something about a Urijah Faber Conor McGregor friendship seems both plausible and entertaining to me.
If there’s one thing Conor McGregor fancies himself as – outside of a really rich human and the greatest mixed martial artist ever – it’s an intellectual of the fight game. Someone who dissects the game in ways you couldn’t comprehend if you tried. Which is exactly why the odds on favorite for the next Conor McGregor HQ, if he were to switch, would be at Tristar with Firas Zahabi. Zahabi spent years with arguably MMA’s finest tactician Georges St-Pierre. Years of overseeing the maximizing of strengths and mitigating of weaknesses.
Sure there were John Danaher’s, Phil Nurse’s, and Freddie Roach’s along the way, but the nucleus was at Tristar. Something tells me Kavanagh and Zahabi have a somewhat similar approach to training. Just at Tristar, you have better, more well-rounded training partners coming through the door. It’s a departure from the environment McGregor knows, but it’s still one he’d be familiar with which is why it’s my pick for where he’d land next.
Again, I don’t think anyone has to worry about John Kavanagh exiting stage right from the McGregor story just yet. McGregor is just doing what all athletes should right now and that’s mixing up his training. Exposing himself to new challenges. Picking up new techniques. Waiting, until he needs to return to SBG, to Kavanagh, to prepare for his next challenge.
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