Coach John Kavanagh feels ring rust was a factor for Conor McGregor at UFC 229

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor was not able to reclaim the UFC lightweight title from his arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov. Although McGregor had some success in his UFC 229 mega fight with Nurmagomedov, he just couldn’t keep up with his destructive foe.

His head coach John Kavanagh believes that might have something to do with his lengthy absence from MMA competition.

To remind, Conor McGregor entered his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov having not competed in MMA in nearly two years — since his November, 2016 knockout win over Eddie Alvarez.

”If I could go back, maybe the mentality was a little too defensive,” the Conor McGregor coach said in a lengthy interview with Ariel Helwani at Saturday night’s Bellator 209 card (via MMA Mania). “Conor’s a very offensive fighter and when his time to land was there – and we did have opportunities – it wasn’t there the way it was in the Eddie [Alvarez] fight, for example. The Eddie fight was off a big training camp for [Nate] Diaz 2, which was off a big training camp for Diaz 1. So we had a lot of cage time.”

”This one, like you said, it’s almost two years out,” he continued. “I said I didn’t think ring rust would play a part, but I have to be honest, when I look at it now, when I replay it in my head, I do feel like it played a little bit of a part. He didn’t quite get his shots off like he normally would. I thought defensively he did quite well defending a lot of takedowns, especially in round 3. But Khabib is amazing, amazingly effective MMA fighter. His style is suffocating, it’s relentless, and he does it better than anyone else.”

”In round 3 that we won, the shots that Conor were landing didn’t quite have the sting that they normally would, he wasn’t able to do things how he normally would,” Kavanagh concluded. “So yeah, if we could turn back time, I would have liked to spend more time on offense and capitalizing on those scenarios when they presented themselves, which they did.”

Do you think Conor McGregor would have performed better at UFC 229 if he’d been more active over the last few years?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/14/2018.