The last year and a half have not been kind to Conor McGregor, as both his personal and professional life was plagued with several unsavory incidents.
From throwing a dolly at the UFC 223 fighter bus to assaulting a patron at an Irish pub to being at the receiving end of multiple sexual misconduct allegations, McGregor had been fighting more battles outside of the cage than inside it.
However, the realization hit the Irishman in due time and he fixed his ways by the end of 2019, leading to his much-awaited return to the Octagon on January 18's UFC 246. Talking to RTE 2fm's Game On, McGregor's longtime coach and friend John Kavanagh shared how his journey has been with 'The Notorious', and how proud is he of the redemption of his protege.
John Kavanagh: He's trying to make himself a better person and I'm behind that
Coming off a submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov way back in October 2018, McGregor did justice to all the hype surrounding his return with a clinically executed destruction of Donald Cerrone. Not only did he put 'Cowboy' down in just 40 seconds, but delivered some rarely-seen-before shoulder hits from within a clinch while at it.
Kavanagh, who has seen his progress from a nobody to a global superstar from close proximity, is very proud of what McGregor has achieved so far.
"I'm incredibly proud of Conor. I realize it was him individually who has made the sport so well known. I get stopped by 60-year-old ladies asking me how his wrestling training is coming along. I know it was him who made it a huge sport in Ireland so I’m very, very proud of that."
Kavanagh agrees with the idea that the sudden super-stardom might be partially responsible for McGregor's recent list of troubles, but he also feels that he has paid his price for them and will now be writing a great comeback story for the generations to come.
"It comes with the territory. Negative headlines get more clicks than positive headlines. That’s just the media game. He’s spoken himself about his slips and his mistakes. He’s had to pay for those outside of the sport. I feel we’re on a good comeback story - he had a great win in January - but yeah, like most things in life you take the good with the bad, you roll with it and try to improve, learn from mistakes and get better as a human being and an athlete as you go on."
In line with Kavanagh's words, McGregor indeed showed a different, much calmer and reserved side of his leading up to the bout with 'Cowboy' in January. According to the coach, it is McGregor's initial steps towards becoming a better person, and he is all there for it.
"It’s a very weird rise from being an unknown guy in Dublin, doing a sport no one has heard of, to being a global superstar. Everything you say and do is analyzed. He had to make his mistakes very publicly and visibly. I’m proud of how he’s come through those things. He’s owned up to his mistakes. He’s trying to make himself a better person and I’m behind that."
After winning against Cerrone, McGregor called out any and all who would like to challenge him inside the cage. But for now, he is preparing to take on the winner of the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson Lightweight title fight or step in as a replacement if something goes wrong with the setup.Published 21 Feb 2020, 15:49 IST