John Kavanagh: “To Me, It Wasn’t A Big Deal What Khabib Did, It Just Really Wasn’t”
UFC events are usually remembered for world-class fights, post-fight conferences, and fight analysis. We got used to seeing Dana White putting the belt on the winner of PPV (pay-per-view) main event. But when it comes to UFC 229, we were watching the real disaster. And it should have been the most historical UFC event!
As soon as the fight was over, Khabib Nurmagomedov leaped over the fence to deal Conor’s BJJ coach, Dillon Danis. Later one of Khabib’s teammates jumped inside the Octagon and sucker punched Conor McGregor. It quickly turned into a street riot. It was one of the worst nightmares for Dana White too. He didn’t even try to hide his disappointment at UFC 229 post-fight press conference. (via MMAFighting.com)
“We have to see what happens with the Nevada State Athletic Commission [sic],” said White at the post-fight press conference. “There’s going to be fines. There’s going to be God knows what. Can these guys get visas and get back into the country? I mean Khabib. We’ll see how this thing plays out. I’ve been doing this for 18 years and the biggest night ever and I couldn’t be more disappointed.”
Yet, John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, looked at the bright side. Joe Kavanagh wasn’t even critical towards Khabib in the first place! He even understands why he and his teammates reacted like a group of hooligans.
“I hope [The Nevada State Athletic Commission] is lenient on [Nurmagomedov],” said Kavanagh during his appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience. “Not just so we can get a rematch. I just love watching him fight. I can stretch myself to understand his reaction. I can’t stretch myself to understand [his teammates] reaction. For Khabib, it’s not the end of the world.”
There has been a lot of bad blood between these two fighters in the past. Let’s remember Conor’s UFC 223 hooligan bus attack. Then social media war which lasted for months. In the end, Conor’s ultimate insults for Khabib’s family, country, and religion. It was a barrel loaded with explosives. Even the smallest thing could ignite the spark.
Yet, John Kavanagh doesn’t know why The Eagle attacked Dillon Danis. Kavanagh claims Danis didn’t say anything. Attacking rival’s sparring partner when you have already earned such a dominant victory is weird.
“[Danis] actually didn’t say anything,” revealed Kavanagh. “I was standing beside Dillon. I didn’t see what he did but I could hear. He didn’t say anything. When I watched it back I could see him beckon [Nurmagomedov] on. It’s just stupid end of fight stuff. But it didn’t justify that level of response. Maybe there was something else in the build up. Dillon is a little bit of trouble online. But, like I said, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me what Khabib did. It just really wasn’t.”
John Kavanagh was pressed to tell what kind of penalties he expects against the participants of the incident. John Kavanagh hopes NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) will show mercy towards The Eagle. But he wants the most serious set of actions against Mr. Wiseman who attacked Conor inside the Octagon. He even called that behavior “an assault”.
“Like I said, if Khabib had done that isolated, I didn’t think it was a big deal,” said Kavanagh. “He didn’t really hit Dillon. There was a bit of pushing and pulling. Who cares? But a man coming up, a trained fighter with bare knuckles, hitting a guy who’s tired, who’s taken some rounds and taking some shots, there has to be ramifications for that. An example has to be made….It’s criminal. It’s assault.”
When it comes to the match itself, Conor McGregor was better only in the third round. Khabib dominated during the first two. The Dagestani secured rear-naked choke victory in the fourth. John Kavanagh thinks Conor made a mistake because he fought too defensively. He also says Conor didn’t use his chances to throw some very hard shots on Khabib.
“If there’s one thing I could change it’s I was too defensive in my mindset,” said Kavanagh. “Khabib has very specific types takedowns depending on where he is. Depending on whether he’s shooting on the single single in the middle and then on the fence. Long before Conor took to the fight, I loved watching [Khabib]. That’s kind of my area is the fence. I loved – from the Randy Couture days – how to use the fence. Khabib does it to a new level.
“One of the takedowns he hit on Conor he hadn’t actually done until the [Al] Iaquinta fight. So it was nice we kind of got to see that. I could see a little bit of [Daniel Cormier] in that high crotch and then tripping the far leg. I think Conor blocked it once but he did catch him with it. So they’re very specific takedowns.
“I do think Round 3 showed promise. Like I said, I would have liked to change things up a little bit, specifically a more offensive mindset. I thought defensively we did quite well. But offensively were weren’t really where we usually are. Right when the fight was over, I was thinking I was going into this not to lose but not to win. Conor’s shots weren’t as crisp as they normally are. He had opportunities to hit him, especially in the third round. Something was off.”
John Kavanagh confirmed that Conor is obsessed with a possible Khabib rematch at the moment.
“That’s all I’m hearing from [Conor],” said Kavanagh on a possible second fight. “I understand Tony [Ferguson] has earned the title shot. But I understand this is a business. The rematch between [Conor and Khabib] would be a huge fight.”
Do you support John Kavanagh? Khabib’s fans probably hope NSAC will listen to Kavanagh’s words.