Jump directly to the content
MAC LADS

Meet Conor McGregor’s team including head coach John Kavanagh, an amateur boxing legend and UFC ace’s sparring partners

CONOR McGREGOR returns to the octagon at UFC 246 against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone - and he will do so with some old and familiar faces.

Loyal McGregor, 31, has trained at the Straight Blast Gym in Dublin since his 2008 MMA debut and swore he will never leave his coaches.

 Conor McGregor has trained at the Straight Blast Gym in Dublin since his 2008 MMA debut
7
Conor McGregor has trained at the Straight Blast Gym in Dublin since his 2008 MMA debut

The Notorious is without a win in the octagon since beating Eddie Alvarez in November 2016 - three years ago.

But as he marks his return by facing Donald Cerrone tonight, fans have been warned this is the best McGregor ever seen in the gym. 

Here SunSport details the team behind the Irish superstar.

John Kavanagh - Head trainer

The man McGregor calls the “The Godfather” has been the head honcho in his training since the beginning and led his star pupil to two UFC titles.

Despite both admitting their close relationship has strained since McGregor’s popularity and out of the cage commitments rocketed, the pair are side-by-side in the gym.

After The Notorious was beaten by Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last fight 14 months ago, he insisted his game plan was wrong and too centred around defending his rival’s feared wrestling.

This time around, Kavanagh revealed McGregor is drawing up the tactics, as the trainer told TheMacLife: “With Conor’s fight IQ, Conor’s understanding of the game, really this training camp is about all of us getting out of his way.

“Provide him with an environment where he can have different looks, different feels and support him where he wants the training camp to go, in intensities and listening to him where he has days where he wants to push hard and days where he wants to slow down.

“It’s not so much about us coaches sitting there on a game plan and filling Conor in. Conor knows more about fighting than the rest of us put together.”

 McGregor calls John Kavanagh 'The Godfather' has been the head honcho in his training since the beginning
7
McGregor calls John Kavanagh 'The Godfather' has been the head honcho in his training since the beginningCredit: refer to caption

Owen Roddy - Striking Coach

Despite Kavanagh being the tactical genius, his former fighter Roddy does the practical work on the pads.

McGregor and Roddy are famous for their public workouts always showing off rhythm and combination strikes on the mitts.

Roddy took the lead in the crossover bout between Floyd Mayweather in 2017, with Kavanagh admitting straight boxing was not his area of expertise.

The former Cage Warriors contender was once a sparring partner of McGregor’s, and was even dropped by his future pupil in 2007.

Kavanagh revealed: “Owen had been with me a long time — he was my boy — but this new kid moved in a certain way.

“He was a southpaw, a good boxer and he just had a way about him that made you go: ‘What’s going to happen here?’ And he caught Owen with a good shot and put him down.”

 Owen Roddy is McGregor's striking coach and holds the pads for the southpaw
7
Owen Roddy is McGregor's striking coach and holds the pads for the southpawCredit: Getty Images - Getty

Phil Sutcliffe Sr - Boxing Coach

When McGregor was 12-years-old he walked into his first gym - the Crumlin Amateur Boxing Club, headed up by two-time Olympian Sutcliffe.

But he dropped the boxing gloves at 16 to take up MMA, despite winning youth amateur championships.

McGregor has now returned to Sutcliffe ahead of his UFC comeback to work on his boxing, and it is understood the veteran Irish trainer will be in Vegas to corner the southpaw.

In an interview with ESPN last his year, The Notorious admitted regret for not going back to Crumlin ABC and training with his first coaches before his ring debut against Mayweather.

McGregor said: "It was only when I got back there that I realised how much of a grave error I made in the Mayweather build-up.

"I needed the coaches who taught me how to box in my corner and I realised that instantly when I was down there doing training sessions.”

 Legendary Irish amateur boxer Phil Sutcliffe is in the UFC star’s corner
7
Legendary Irish amateur boxer Phil Sutcliffe is in the UFC star’s cornerCredit: Instagram @thenotoriousmma

Sergey Pikulskiy - Wrestling Coach

For all the ability in McGregor’s feet and power in his hands, grappling has long been deemed his kryptonite - with Nurmagomedov putting on a dominant wrestling display in their fight.

But the two-time champion is not credited enough for his takedown defence, which stands at an impressive 70 per cent success rate.

Pikulskiy - an ex-national wrestler for Moldova - has been labelled a huge and vital part of McGregor’s training.

Roddy told MMA Fighting: “He is just phenomenal. He knows the game inside out. He’s brought in some Moldovan guys and we have a lot of high-level Eastern European wrestlers in SBG.

“We have a huge team of them and Conor has been working with them, not only for years, but for many, many years.

“It’s one of the regular classes that Conor will [attend]. He will rarely miss the wrestling class. And Conor’s takedown defence is phenomenal and that’s down to Sergey and some of the stuff that John does on the wall.”

 Ex-national wrestler for Moldova Sergey Pikulskiy is McGregor's grappling coach
7
Ex-national wrestler for Moldova Sergey Pikulskiy is McGregor's grappling coachCredit: Instagram

George Lockhart - Nutritionist

McGregor has long battled gruelling weight cuts to help him get down to featherweight and lightweight.

Up until he beat Chad Mendes for the interim 145lbs title in 2015, McGregor’s team were controlling the weight cut themselves.

But before McGregor scored his famous 13-second knockout against Jose Aldo, former US Marine and renowned nutritionist Lockhart was employed.

Lockhart has worked with the biggest names in MMA and was implemented to get McGregor’s weight down with more ease.

He was a big part in the 31-year-old’s preparations before facing Mayweather and Nurmagomedov.

 The Irish star, next to commentator Joe Rogan, has undergone drastic weight cuts in the past
7
The Irish star, next to commentator Joe Rogan, has undergone drastic weight cuts in the pastCredit: Corbis

Sparring Partners

Dillon Danis - McGregor’s jiu jitsu sparring partner who is also 2-0 in his MMA career. Danis was recruited by the Irishman before he beat Nate Diaz in their 2016 rematch.

Artem Lobov - UFC veteran Lobov has long been a training partner and close friend of McGregor’s and was even trusted to help him prepare to face Mayweather.

Cian Cowley - Former Muay Thai champion Cowley will be an important part for helping prepare for kickboxer Cerrone.

 Dillon Danis is McGregor’s jiu jitsu sparring partner who is also 2-0 in his MMA career
7
Dillon Danis is McGregor’s jiu jitsu sparring partner who is also 2-0 in his MMA careerCredit: Refer to Caption
Watch Conor McGregor hit the pads at the UFC PI in Las Vegas ahead of comeback fight against Donald Cerrone  
Topics