Conor McGregor will make his long-awaited return to the octagon this weekend when he takes on Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 on Fight Island.
‘The Notorious’ will be hoping for a repeat performance against Poirier in Abu Dhabi after emphatically stopping the American in just one round in their previous encounter in 2014.
McGregor, second from right, poses with the teammates who helped him make UFC history in 2016Getty Images – Getty
However, so much has changed since then for both men and it makes Saturday night even more enthralling and intriguing.
Poirier immediately moved up to lightweight after the crushing defeat and fought 12 times at 155lbs – establishing himself as one of the best in the world in the process.
Although he was less active, McGregor was far more successful as he became the first ever simultaneous two-weight world champion on 2016 and earned millions by boxing Floyd Mayweather a year later.
However, after fighting just once in 2020 and for only 40 seconds, the 32-year-old looks ready for a scrap and looks in the best physical shape he has ever been.
McGregor will take on Donald Cerrone this Saturday at UFC 246Getty Images – Getty
Becoming a father for the second time has been a huge help, with McGregor also talking about the importance of increased communication with his team and those who are of great importance in his life.
Below, talkSPORT.com has identified the team behind ‘Mystic Mac’ who have helped MMA’s biggest star to get back to what fans hope to be his best ever form.
John Kavanagh – Head Coach
John Kavanagh was hooked from the second he watched the first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship event way back in 1993.
A huge fan of Royce Gracie, Kavanagh competed in several UK and Ireland-based MMA tournaments and was the first Irishman to ever collect a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
He founded Straight Blast Gym Ireland in 2001 after being welcomed by Matt Thornton to the Straight Blast Gym International family.
Kavanagh met ‘The Notorious’ when he was 17Getty Images – Getty
He first met McGregor in 2007 after ‘The Notorious’ crossed over into the world of MMA from boxing, although he did have to ‘beat the s***’ out of the young fighter from Lucan.
The pair formed an incredible partnership over the years, with McGregor winning world titles in both the UFC and Cage Warriors and Kavanagh winning the World MMA Award for ‘Coach of the Year’ in 2017.
The Dublin-based pair have worked together since 2007
Owen Roddy – Striking Coach
Roddy was part of the Straight Blast Gym from the very beginning, although he left the set-up in October 2018.
When McGregor joined SBG in 2007, he sparred with Roddy on the very first day and even dropped the more experienced fighter.
‘Rowdy’ as he was known during his fighting days, seemed destined for the UFC after a seven-fight win streak in Cage Warriors, but eventually retired after losing to Wilson Reis and seeing his Brazilian opponent earn a UFC contract instead of him.
McGregor works with striking coach Owen Roddy before UFC 229Getty Images – Getty
A pugilistic master, Roddy’s striking skills often got him through several tricky times in the octagon and he has transferred his knowledge onto McGregor – with 18 of his 21 wins coming by way of KO.
He led the preparations for the Floyd Mayweather camp and can be seen doing the pad work with McGregor in the majority of his training videos on Instagram.
Sergey Pikulskiy – Wrestling Coach
If there is one criticism of McGregor’s game, it would be his wrestling and grappling. However, when he possesses a weapon as deadly as his left hand it seems remiss to take an opponent to the ground.
Under the direction of Pikulskiy (a Moldovan wrestler with a slick Russian style) the Irishman has accrued a respectable 70 per cent takedown defence record in the UFC.
Phil Sutcliffe – Boxing Coach
Sutcliffe won four national titles in Ireland, two amateur bronze medals at the European Boxing Championships and competed at the 1980 and 1984 Olmypic Games.
He became the head coach of Crumlin Boxing Club in 1992 and welcomed a 12-year-old McGregor through the doors in 2000.
Although the youngster showed tremendous promise, he then moved to Dublin to work under Kavanagh at SBG.
Sutcliffe has been sharing pad duties with Roddy at the UFC Performance Institute@thenotoriousmma (Instagram)
Danis has worked with McGregor since 2016 when the Irishman recruited the BJJ expert to help him prepare for the Nate Diaz rematch.
Skilled on the floor and with a background in wrestling, Danis and his 6”0 frame made for the perfect sparring partner.
Danis and McGregor joke around with Cristiano Ronaldo at Jennifer Lopez’s birthday2016 Denise Truscello
A welterweight contender in Bellator, the 26-year-old has amassed two wins thus far and has called for fights against both Jake and Logan Paul in the past.
However, he is perhaps best known for his part in the UFC 229 brawl which kicked off 15 months ago. Khabib infamously leapt out of the cage to take on Danis, who responded by going straight back after ‘The Eagle’.
Danis reportedly still must the NSAC for his part in the Khabib meleeGetty Images – Getty
A Russian fighter, Lobov is a close friend of McGregor and has competed in numerous disciplines and organisations across the world.
Competing with Cage Warriors, Lobov made his professional debut in 2010 and was admitted to the Ultimate Fighter house by ‘The Notorious’ at the Irishman’s request for season 22 of the programme.
Although he was defeated by Ryan Hall in the Ultimate Fighter Finale, his close friendship with McGregor meant he remained with the company.
Artem Lobov and Conor McGregor have been teammates at SBG for yearsGetty Images – Getty
It was Lobov who was involved in an altercation with Khabib Nurmagomedov way back in April 2018 which incensed McGregor so much he flew to Brooklyn in an attempt to get the Russian – smashing a bus in the process.
Moran is currently in Dubai helping ‘The Notorious’ for his highly-anticipated return to the octagon after a year away.
The Waterford welterweight has amassed a 15-1 record in his professional career and managed to secure three wins in 2020.
Given his slick skill set and southpaw stance, McGregor was quick to recruit the 26-year-old into his camp to prepare for the rematch with Poirier – the man he stopped in one round in 2014.
Moran (15-1) is currently preparing McGregor to face Dustin PoirierSportsfile – Subscription
For all his achievements in the ring, being called ‘a phenomenally exciting talent’ by a fighter as accomplished and skilled as McGregor on social media has thrust Moran into the limelight by raising his profile.
‘The Real Deal’ comes from a family of boxers and only really became intrigued by MMA because of McGregor’s rise to the top. Having had the chance to now spar the Irishman, Moran revealed to talkSPORT he fully understands the hype.
Having worked with George Lockhart for much of his career, McGregor is now working with Kennedy to add the necessary bulk and substance to his 5ft 9ins frame.
Combining relentless training and constant travelling with a calorie-controlled diet can be taxing, but the former two-weight world champion has managed to stick religiously to the diet provided by Kennedy and looks all the better for it.
CONOR MCGREGOR’S DIET FOR UFC 257
UFC 257 is just over two weeks away, with ‘The Notorious’ going toe-to-toe with American Dustin Poirier to headline the event in Abu Dhabi’s ‘Fight Island
Breakfast: Oats with eggs and green vegetables
Morning snack: Fruit and herb salad with organic honey
Lunch: Chicken, rice and asparagus
Afternoon Snack: McGregor FAST vanilla whey protein shake with nut butter
Dinner: Irish lamb stew and potatoes
Night-time snack: McGregor FAST chocolate whey protein balls with organic tea.
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