In preparation for his UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz, UFC featherweight champ Conor McGregor invited several stars from other martial arts disciplines into his camp. One such star was BJJ whiz Dillon Danis, who helped the Irishman prepare for Diaz’s dangerous grappling arsenal. Another was All-Ireland boxing champion Conor Wallace, who was brought in to help McGregor adapt to Diaz’s rangy brand of boxing.
In a recent interview with Independent.Ie, Wallace discussed his role in McGregor’s camp, and what it was like to join the MMA superstar in the gym.
According to Wallace, the whole experience began with a wave of disbelief.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard at the time,” Wallace said. “I thought he [McGregor] was joking, then I rang Mick [Michael Conlan] straight away and asked him if he was winding me up. But when I found out it wasn’t a joke I replied back to tell him I’d be delighted to go.”
From there, it was all about sharpening McGregor’s hands.
“Conor had his boxing days, days for grappling, strength and conditioning, cardio,” the boxer told Independent. “We mainly did two sessions a day, it was well structured and I was mainly used on the boxing days. And when I wasn’t boxing with Conor I was sparring with the other lads, keeping myself ticking over and ready for the next session.”
Of course, Wallace’s main goal was to prepare McGregor for Diaz’s style of boxing, not for boxing in general–though that may be necessary in the future.
“For this camp it was structured for a specific opponent,” Wallace explained. “He brought me in and you could see from the first spar the improvement as the spars went on. He was obviously watching the footage back and learning from it.
“I’m a lot sharper than Diaz, it’s plain to be seen,” Wallace aded. “He’s slow and sluggish but it’s his fitness and toughness that wins him a lot of his fights. But I watched a lot of his footage, his big long one-two, and a kind of slap hook catching as the opponent comes in. So I watched the footage and tried to mimic him the best I could to help McGregor deal with it.”
“I was there to do a job to help him,” Wallace continued. “I would tell him the kind of shots that would work better to hit me with, and the shots I was finding easy to hit him, so he could move out of the way.”
Wallace also explained that McGregor is not only a quick student, but an appreciative one too.
“He couldn’t thank me enough, myself and my coach Owen Murphy,” the boxer said. “Couldn’t thank us enough for the work that we had done, because when people were watching the fight, it was more like a boxing match, rather than MMA.”
McGregor clearly took his training very seriously in the lead up to his rematch with Diaz. How do you think a third fight between the two fan favorites would go? Sound off, PENN nation!