Conor McGregor’s return from a two-year absence from MMA at UFC 229 did not end well for him. “The Notorious” failed to reclaim the 155-pound title from Khabib Nurmagomedov, who ended up tapping him out by the fourth round of their main event fight.
But there were apparently a lot of other external factors that led to the fight’s outcome according to McGregor himself. During his recent guesting on the Tony Robbnins podcast, the Irish fighter revealed an injury he sustained during camp.
“Two and a half weeks before my last fight, I threw a front kick at a shooting Moldovan wrestler,” McGrgeor said (transcript via MMA Weekly). “When he shot and I threw the front kick, I threw it at his belly and my two toes, the baby toe and the toe next to it, bent back like this and stuck in that position. My doctor had to come into the cage had to stretch it and break it back into place and my foot swelled like a balloon.”
“Obviously the injury — the injury itself led me to, I had to half my work,” he continued. “I couldn’t road run anymore. I wasn’t [fully prepared]. My weight was too high. So when you’re cutting weight, if I can’t get my weight down because of injuries or what not, I have a more intense weight cut. So I was severely dehydrated. I didn’t sleep for 48 hours before the weight cut.”
McGregor also pointed to employing incorrect strategies during camp.
“My whole approach in that camp — the injuries, the non-commitment, even the game plan, the tactics — I attack, I am an attacker and my attack defends. In this camp, the entire focus was defend, defend,” he explained. “So every round we would start in the training, I’d have my back against the fence. I’d have my back on the floor. I would always put myself in a vulnerable position and as the camp went on, we just became defensive, defensive. That’s never been what I do.
“It still irritates me to this day because the training partners I train with are heavy people,” he added. “Like I said that Moldovan wrestler I broke my foot [against] is like a horse. He’s literally like a f—king human horse and I’ve got an American Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion who trains with me, he was like 200 pounds. They’re big, big, boys but I was always on the defensive with them.”
McGregor says he immediately saw the difference when he employed the exact opposite strategy when he got back in the gym.
“Since the fight, I’ve gone back to training with them and I went with my internal dialogue,” he said. “Not the external dialogue, the dialogue of ‘I can’t grapple with this man and he’s a Russian sambo guy and he’s wrestled bears since he was a kid’ and all this bullsh-t. That’s external. I let the external infiltrate my internal and it filtered into the fight.
“But after the bout, I went back and trained with these people and attacked and I mauled them.”
During the same interview, McGregor also went on to explain how the entire post-fight brawl went down from his perspective, as he expects a rematch with Khabib sometime in the future.