How to workout like Ultimate Fighting Champion Conor McGregor

Here's what Conor McGregor has been doing to train for the fight of his life

13 August 2017 - 00:00 By Madeleine Howell
Conor McGregor, UFC’s biggest star, will take on all-time great Floyd Mayweather on August 26.
Conor McGregor, UFC’s biggest star, will take on all-time great Floyd Mayweather on August 26.
Image: Gallo/Getty

"I'm cocky in prediction, I'm confident in preparation, but I am always humble in victory or defeat" - Conor McGregor's words will be tested like never before on August 26, when the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter faces boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in a traditional, professional boxing match.

Against an opponent with a 49-0 record, McGregor will have no recourse to his customary kickboxing and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) weapons. For Mike Tyson, the big question is whether a boxer can defeat an MMA fighter. He has predicted that McGregor is "going to get killed".

And according to Brendan Loughnane, a Manchester-based MMA fighter who has previously fought in the UFC, "in reality, if they have a real, genuine boxing match, he shouldn't even hit Mayweather once".

But trash talk aside, how has McGregor actually been training for the fight of his life? "I'm not a fan of routine," he has said in the past of his approach. "I mean, people do what they think works for them, but the sport is about instinct, movement, balance, and power. Training to me isn't about a set time at the gym. I move at all times of the day and night."

VARIETY

For Loughnane, who has lost just three fights due to "bad decision-making" in his decade-long career and regularly spars with Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz, variety of movement is crucial. "It can be anything from boxing or wrestling to ju jitsu," he says. "Predominantly now, because I'm more experienced and my technique is decent, I just need to try and get very fit for the fights. You have to do a mixture. If you're not good in one area, you will get exploited in the ring."

This seems to support McGregor's conviction that training in all kinds of movement incorporating instinct and balance, give him the advantage.

FAST FACT

Conor McGregor defeated José Aldo in 2015 to win the UFC featherweight title. Aldo hadn't been beaten for 10 years; McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds.

COMMITMENT

McGregor's training is all-consuming and leaves little time for anything else.

"It's a hell of a lot of hard work," admits Loughnane. "There will be ups and downs, and there will be more downs than ups at times. It's a lonely sport. You're training all day and you can't really have a social life. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to my son."

WHAT NOT TO DO

At this point ahead of the fight, Loughnane emphasises that McGregor shouldn't be hard sparring in training. "In the last two or three weeks, that's a big no-no. Accidents can happen in sparring. It's when you're most likely to get injured, knocked out, or put in a nasty lock. Hard sparring is best six weeks before, to build your endurance."

RECOVERY

Recovery time is also key, and Loughnane swears by the power of a nap. "You put every ounce of energy you have that day into training and that's the way it's got to be if you want to be a champion. You feel shattered, physically and mentally."

MINDSET

Loughnane says it's all about focusing your mind. "Some say it's 90% of the fight. It's a pretty crazy thing that you're doing. I've seen a lot of guys over the years that have been absolutely amazing in the gym, but as soon as they get in the fight they fold and can't do it."

YOGA

McGregor famously trains under movement specialist Ido Portal, and is a fan of yogic movements.

Loughnane agrees that this is vital: "Yoga should be a massive part of training. With how hard we train and how beaten up our bodies get over the years, in later life especially you need to work on flexibility," he says. "Your muscles get really tight from wrestling and boxing, and it can get quite hard sometimes just getting out of bed in the mornings."

FAST FACT

Conor McGregor is one of the highest-earning MMA fighters, and earned an estimated $10-million for one recent fight.

NUTRITION

Nutrition is an important part of McGregor's holistic approach. Harley Street clinical and sports dietitian Rick Miller says that the diets of combat sports athletes like McGregor must be rigorously maintained all year round to maintain performance levels.

"Their diets are based on good habits," says Miller. "It isn't a fad or a crash diet, it's a lifestyle."

Of his diet, McGregor has said previously: "I drink mostly water or coconut water. It's important to stay hydrated - first thing I do in the morning is stretch and drink water."

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