Main man: “Fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. Conor (McGregor) has his set shots that he lands on everybody.”
Notorious Fighter McGregor wins his second belt in New York
MGA SWERTENG DULOT NG NUMERO - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2016 - 12:00am

That was such an eventful and very long week in New York. Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States at the start of the week. We attended an annual convention at The Roosevelt Hotel mid-week and witnessed some post-election street protests. 

That Friday, we trooped to Madison Square Garden to witness the UFC 205 Weigh Ins. Our tickets had seat numbers so we thought it wouldn’t be necessary to go early. Oh boy, were we so wrong! The doors almost got slammed closed at us. Worse, gate attendants in our section said they are over capacity and advised us just to keep on going up to higher sections.

Yes, it’s UFC but why all the fuss? New York State just lifted a ban on MMA events.  The last one prior to UFC 205 was UFC 7 held at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium with 9,000 in attendance.

The following day, Nov. 12, we arrived earlier than the big crowds after our weigh-in experience. My first live UFC was 200 in Las Vegas. While it was a memorable spectacle, the excitement building up in Madison Square Garden hinted this would be one very special night.

A-listers were in attendance and had front row seats in UFC’s New York comeback. Madonna, Zac Efron, chef Gordon Ramsay, former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold with girlfriend Demi Lovato, Donald Trump Jr., New York Giants receiver Odel Beckham Jr., Hugh Jackman, Nick Jonas and GQ 2016 Model of The Year Bella Hadid, among many others, were seen enjoying the event.

Hollywood superstars came to see the Octagon’s king: the Irish Conor McGregor. While all the other fighters gave the capacity crowd a great show, the best was reserved for the main event which ended early Sunday morning.

A showman, McGregor starts off with his trademark swagger around the Octagon to the riotous cheer of the crowd. There seems to be not a single soul in the Garden cheering for the American Eddie Alvarez. As you may already know, Alvarez was dethroned as lightweight champ and McGregor made history as the reigning featherweight as well as lightweight champion.

McGregor also holds four out of the six top UFC gate sales of all time. UFC president Dana White announced that UFC 205 took in a gate of $17.7 million with 20,427 in attendance.  This shattered UFC’s previous live gate record, likewise for Madison Square Garden. The previous UFC 200 I attended last July at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas got $10.7 million.

His striking coach, retired MMAer Owen Roddy, was interviewed by Muscle & Fitness for insights on his training. Here are a few takes:

On how often he does striking: “When we’re in camp, it’s almost every single day, a half an hour straight just working on refining strikes. Everybody knows it’s the left hand, his uppercut. He lands his shots over and over and over and over again. It was a Bruce Lee saying: Fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. Conor has his set shots that he lands on everybody and that’s because we spend a lot of time refining those.”

On McGregor’s training: “Since we started, he had a bit of boxing, but he had the same power. He was easily taken down, he was easily submitted. When I say easily submitted, he was a bit of a quick, scrambly guy. He resisted everything to look as great, but he had no skill set on the ground. He’s open-minded, he realized where his holes were and he started to learn how to kick, started to learn how to stand the takedown, started to enjoy jiu-jitsu. I forced him to take jiu-jitsu, he had to do it. Maybe six to seven years ago, he started to enjoy jiu-jitsu. He put the gi on, and he started to enjoy it.”

On the McGregor workout: “The Conor McGregor workout, realistically, there is no such thing. But if you wanted to land the shot that Conor lands, you just have to watch the shots that he lands continuously, look at how he moves his body, watch it slowly, watch it a thousand times, watch how he leaves his head there; everyone takes the bait, he pulls away the shot, falls into dead space, and he lands his shots. Realistically, there is no magic potion. It’s down to hours on the mat. Put the hours in and you’ll get the reward.”

On flexibility: “He does a lot of those stretching movements — he won’t do a specific yoga routine, but he’ll do aspects of yoga, he’ll do aspects of Pilates, and every sort of movement that you can think of. But even before he was discovering movement, he was discovering being a lot more loose and nimble, and being able to put his body in positions that are uncomfortable and stretching out from there.” 

On his weaknesses: “I think hardening the leg kicks — he never leg-kicks. He’s never really had to, and setting them up would have been a little more difficult for him being a southpaw. Conor is a competitor; people don’t realize how good he is on the ground and how good he is at wrestling. He’ll go for the ground if need be or if he sees something there, but he wants to knock people out. The way a common fight with Conor is, if he manages to take the shots off, he’s going to be trying for the takedown. It’s just the way it is. That’s why people are saying, ‘Conor hasn’t been tested in the ring, I haven’t seen him wrestle people, I haven’t seen him on the ground.’” 

On his footwork: “He’s got some of the best feet in the game. You can’t really see it because it’s so subtle. He always maintains his lanes perfectly at all times. Floyd Mayweather is the best at maintaining his range and just staying fluid and making people fall into his shot. Conor’s so good at that. When it comes to landing the strikes, his feet position is on par with the best in the world in boxing; possibly one of the best, if not the best in MMA.” 

 * * *

Post me a note at mylene@goldsgym.com.ph or mylenedayrit@gmail.com.

 

MCGREGOR
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