Conor McGregor has never lacked a strong work ethic, but he has also never prepared for a fight quite like this.
That's according to McGregor's longtime coach John Kavanagh, who is currently with the featherweight champion in Las Vegas. McGregor is scheduled to fight Nate Diaz in a welterweight rematch at UFC 202 on Aug. 20 at T-Mobile Arena, and has set up camp in the desert between now and then.
McGregor (19-3) is coming off his first loss in the UFC, a submission defeat to Diaz (19-10) in March. The 28-year-old has made significant changes to his preparations for the rematch. Whereas before, McGregor would "float" through camp, as Kavanagh puts it, he has now bought in to a set routine.
"If I was to sum it up, there's order to this training camp," Kavanagh said during a recent appearance on ESPN's Five Rounds podcast. "There's no chaos. Everything is very disciplined, very military style. Beforehand, it was kind of done on Conor's whim, how he felt on a certain day.
"This training camp has been based on cycles. Every day, we start at 1 p.m. sharp. In the evenings, we do cardio training. Everything is measured, nothing is left to 'How you feeling?' We have a performance doctor taking care of the performance side of things, I'm taking care of the fighting side of things, everybody is working together and nothing we've done before comes close to comparison for this one."
Kavanagh, head coach of Straight Blast Gym Ireland in McGregor's native Dublin, says he prefers things this way, but never pushed McGregor to adopt this method of training in the past. There was no need, really. McGregor began his UFC career 7-0, with six knockouts.
That changed with the loss to Diaz, who managed to beat McGregor on just 11 days' notice. McGregor, who is still the featherweight champion, was supposed to fight then-lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos for the 155-pound title in March, but dos Anjos withdrew with injury.
McGregor won the first round against Diaz but appeared tired in the second. Diaz caught him with a good straight left and McGregor never recovered. He has since stated he "ate up" to the 170-pound weight limit for that fight. He and his camp are confident the outcome of the rematch will be different.
"I truly believe that loss will, in time, be seen as the most positive thing that happened in Conor's career," Kavanagh said. "Because I want people to see what he does with a loss. I know the measure of him. I know how he bounces back. If he spends his whole career on this air of invincibility -- putting everybody away inside one round -- I don't think people would have truly gotten to see his character.
"This fight actually feels bigger to me than the [Jose Aldo championship fight in December], if I'm being honest. I really feel this will sum up a lot of what the gym stands for and of course, Conor's legacy as well."
Originally, the rematch was supposed to headline UFC 200 on July 9. However the UFC pulled McGregor from that spot after he refused to participate in a Las Vegas press conference in April.
Kavanagh said the delay can only help McGregor's preparations and that he's pleased with the current schedule when it comes to promotional duties. Kavanagh added this camp will have consisted of 16 weeks by the time of the fight.
Kavanagh also stated he's unconcerned with the fact the bout will once again take place at 170 pounds. The initial meeting had to take place at welterweight since Diaz was left with virtually no time to cut weight. Many felt a rematch could take place at 155, but McGregor demanded it be at 170.
With McGregor on a regimented schedule for the first time in his career, Kavanagh said weight will not be an issue.
"It's kind of funny [weight] is even a conversation," Kavanagh said.
"The last couple of weeks there has been a real level of growth to what he has been able to do. Now, he really is a truly elite athlete. He has always been an incredible fighter, but now, training like a true Olympian-style champion -- for me, that's a scary combination."