Tuesday 17 July 2018

John Kavanagh on what it takes to rise to the top of MMA

16 July 2017; Coach John Kavanagh at UFC Fight Night Glasgow in the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
16 July 2017; Coach John Kavanagh at UFC Fight Night Glasgow in the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

SBG Ireland coach John Kavanagh has said that taking responsibility is one of the key characteristics in becoming a great fighter.

Kavanagh has spent the best part of the last two months in Las Vegas helping his fighter Conor McGregor prepare for his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather Jr. this weekend.

While Kavanagh has been away helping McGregor, a number of his fighters have had to prepare for their fights without the 40-year-old in their corner.

Lightweight Lee Hammond defeated Alexander O'Sullivan with a first-round armbar in the BattleZone Fighting Championship main event last weekend, while bantamweight Sinead Kavanagh will make her Bellator debut when she takes on Arlene Blencowe on Friday.

Kavanagh singled out both fighters for taking responsibility for their camps during his absence, and also encouraged prospective fighters to look a bit deeper into the rise of Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson.

"Earlier in the week i posted about one of SBG’s up and coming stars Lee Hammond. Last night he was in the most highly anticipated amateur fight in Irish MMA history.

"His opponent, Alex, is a fellow IMMAF - International Mixed Martial Arts Federation medalist and currently ranked No.1 UK/Ire LW and Euro No.2 LW by Tapology.com.

"The link below shows the fight where Lee wins in the 1st round. That’s not the point of the post as at the end of the day it’s just an amateur contest and I've no doubt Alex will go on to do great things in MMA.

"The point of the post is about the decision made by Lee a few months ago accepting this fight and the mindset he had in the lead up. For me he exhibited the most important trait in the lead up to this contest that makes a champion:


"When this fight was offered I explained I’d be away in the crucial 6-8 weeks leading up to this fight. He’d have to run his own ‘camp’ so to speak. He didn't hesitate for a moment.

"You can have a fighter in the best facilities surrounded by the best coaching staff but if they don't accept personal responsibility for eating right, getting rest, making sessions, giving feedback, self assessing, getting rounds in etc then they are not going anywhere.

Earlier in the week i posted about one of SBG’s up and coming stars Lee Hammond. Last night he was in the most highly...

Posted by Coach John Kavanagh on Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Being part of large successful team comes with pros and cons. Pros include getting fights and sponsorship deals is a bit easier as is having high level sparring partners on hand but with so many on the mat you’ll have to be comfortable with accepting responsibility for your own progress to a greater degree than if you were in a small club with one or two active fighters.

"In the last year or so I've had a lot of fighters drop in for a few weeks or months training. Some ‘get it’ right away and have come on leaps and bounds getting great results.

"However some drift away and don't come back, disillusioned they didn't get any ‘secret’ techniques. I'm not sure what they expected? Rousing daily motivational speeches from Conor or me to hold their hands through every session?

"Here’s the dirty secret of success - it's the result of years of tedious, monotonous, repetitive and yes sometimes boring work. There's no way around this.

"I can't give it to you, nor can any of the ‘super camps’ in the states. It's on YOU to put that time in. No 'talent' will help you skip this part. Delve a little deeper into the backgrounds of the Conor McGregors and Gunnar Nelsons of this world and you'll find a decade of daily grind before the bright lights shone on them and people started referring to them as 'talented'.

"A good team can provide nice facilities, great training partners and a coaching staff to make you feel comfortable expanding your skill set. They may even have good contacts to get you fights and sponsorship deals. We at SBG Ireland strive to make that happen but unless you are willing to put in the hard rounds, the repetitive work, hold yourself responsible for your results and accountable for the hours you put in then you’re wasting your time.

In the same boat as Lee is Sinead kavanagh mma who travels to New York for her US debut on Bellator MMA two nights before Conor’s match. Again she had to make a decision to ‘own’ her training camp. Do what you’ve been trained to do, no pointing fingers and blaming anyone.

"She’s lucky to have the experienced Richie Smullen helping her out but it was on her to get the rounds in and make sure she can perform on the night. In the same breadth and coincidentally on the same night Peter "The Showstopper"'Queally is fighting in Russia. Same mindset, same decision made.

"I don't believe you can be successful in MMA or anything for that matter without accepting Personal Responsibility for your successes and failures and holding yourself Accountable to a tough training regime with constant critical feedback.

"These qualities are common among SBG fighters, must be something in the water?"

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