Exclusive: Conor McGregor will end Jose Aldo's career and surprise many in December - John Kavanagh
Few professions present the risks of elite MMA, which is why John Kavanagh urges all his fighters to acquire their fortune in the timeliest manner possible before bowing out with their health intact.
So much so, in fact, that if any of his pupils were to approach the sport with a different attitude or set of priorities, he would no longer offer them his tutelage.
He was emphatic on this point when speaking at Monday night’s The Takeover Q and A; Powered by Reebok at the Wright Venue.
“The number one motivation for prize-fighting was always to make as much money as possible in as short a period as possible,” he said.
“If one of my fighters ever didn’t have that as the goal, I’d stop training them because that’s not very bright. If you’re thinking there’s some honour in it, there’s not. It’s prize-fighting; it’s very dangerous at the professional level.
“You’re going to have multiple surgeries- I don’t train a fighter that hasn’t had surgeries. It’s dangerous; you’re getting full contact shots to the head. So the only reason those risks would be worth it is if you’re able to make a huge amount of money in it.”
As evidenced by the countless custom suits, cars and watches, Conor McGregor has paid close attention to Kavanagh’s teachings.
Perhaps only women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey commands a higher price than the Dubliner, who earned a reputed $5m when beating Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title at UFC 189.
He also counts Reebok, Monster energy drinks and Game of War among his sponsors, and has never been shy in declaring his ever-increasing wealth.
Kavanagh says that it’s not just McGregor’s skills in the octagon, but also his business acumen that set him apart from his contemporaries.
“The shiny belts are nice, but the goal is to make as much money as possible. And that’s what Conor has been doing over the last year.
“He’s incredibly astute at telling his employer how much money he can add to a card, and I don’t think there’s many fighters who can do that. And he’s looking for compensation for that and he’ll get it,” he said.
As for the more immediate future, Kavanagh is confident that a victory for McGregor over Jose Aldo at UFC 194 in December will herald his much discussed move up to the talent-laden lightweight division.
Even if many wish to see him face Frankie Edgar - who is scheduled to fight Chad Mendes -before he does so.
“I don’t think there will be a point in staying at 145lbs after this fight. I think the way he’ll win will surprise a lot of people, and don’t see how you can excited about him fighting Edgar after that.
“Everybody has lost to Aldo, clearly. So for him to go in stop Aldo in the fashion I believe he will, I just think all the questions will be answered at that time.
“Then it’ll be can he beat a bigger man. Can he beat Donald Cerrone, Rafael Dos Anjos (lightweight champion) or Khabib Nurmagomedov?
"I think for me, even as a fan, those questions will be a lot more interesting than to go through all that preparation and build up to go in against Edgar, who’s another Mendes, and I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the two of them."
He reckons that Jose Aldo will swiftly exit the sport upon losing to McGregor, who he sees having a brief, but seismic stint at lightweight, before quickly walking off into the sunset with plenty of cash in tow.
“I see Aldo calling it a day after that. He’s had a fantastic career, but I don’t see what else he will have to achieve after that. I see a belt in December, then move up a weight class; either one fight or straight to the title fight at 155lbs.
“Maybe in three to four years, I’d see him calling it. If the goals are met along the way with what we’re trying to achieve, I’d say at 30 or 31 he’ll call it a day,” he said.