Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh responds to Michael Bisping criticism

Former middleweight champion Bisping called for McGregor to fire his coach this year

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Tuesday 21 December 2021 11:05
UFC 4 - Conor McGregor

John Kavanagh has thanked Michael Bisping for his “constructive criticism” after the former UFC middleweight champion called for Conor McGregor’s coach to be fired this year.

McGregor lost twice to old rival Dustin Poirier in 2021, knocked out by the American in January before suffering a broken leg in the pair’s trilogy bout in July.

After a frantic, back-and-forth start to the opponents’ most recent clash, Poirier began to dominate McGregor, who then sustained his horrific injury just before the end of the first round. Kavanagh, however, said he thought his fellow Irishman would have stopped Poirier in the second round if the injury had not occurred.

But Bisping – the UFC’s first ever champion from the UK – disagreed with Kavanagh’s assessment, even calling for McGregor to fire the 44-year-old.

“I would take criticism from anybody, it’s very important to,” Kavanagh told the Mirror this week at a fundraiser for paralysed Irish MMA fighter Ian Coughlan.

“I wouldn’t say I was hurt, I wasn’t going: ‘Oh no, Bisping said something.’ That’s his opinion and everybody is welcome to their opinion.

“I’m always self-critical, but if I’m being 100 per cent honest, it’ll be the people closest to me saying something... I have a lot of people who are very honest around me; that’ll be what makes me really stand up and think.

“To Bisping, I’d say: ‘Thanks very much for the constructive criticism, keep it coming and we’ll keep trying to improve.’”

McGregor’s surge to the UFC featherweight and lightweight titles, which he held simultaneously in 2016 as he became the promotion’s first ever dual-weight champion, helped to put Kavanagh’s gym SBG Ireland on the map.

However, SBG has come under criticism in recent times following some high-profile losses for its fighters – including McGregor.

Kavanagh defended the gym’s reputation, though, saying its overall record has been strong in recent months.

“I was asked this on Ireland AM the other morning and I had my research ready,” he said.

“For this quarter that’s just ending, we had a 70 per cent win rate; 20 fighters and 14 wins, and that’s going to be right up there with some of the best gyms in the world.

“Our biggest star obviously overshadows everything we do, and if he slips then people say the whole gym is terrible.

Dustin Poirier can go out and lose to Charles [Oliveira], or get finished quicker than Conor did against Khabib [Nurmagomedov], and nobody asks why he’s still with American Top Team or says he has no grappling.

“So, we’re judged under a different set of rules to everybody else, and that’s fine because we also get a lot of benefits from the 2,000lb gorilla that is Conor.

“We get a lot of attention here, lots of great opportunities, my fight team gets to be involved with big shows.”

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