Conor McGregor’s Karate Comeback: How He’s Changing His Style for Michael Chandler
Conor McGregor is known for his dynamic and versatile striking skills, but in his last two fights against Dustin Poirier, he seemed to abandon his signature karate-style stance and movement in favor of a more boxing-oriented approach. The result was two devastating losses for the former two-division champion, who suffered a knockout and a broken leg in the process.
Now, as he prepares for his comeback fight against Michael Chandler, McGregor has reportedly returned to his fighting style that incorporates karate and movement, according to UFC welterweight contender Stephen Thompson, who spent some time with him in The Ultimate Fighter house.
“He’s [Conor McGregor] getting back to his roots, his karate,” Thompson told Submission Radio. “He’s never taken karate in his life, but he’s trained with a lot of karate fighters, and that’s kind of where he got that his movement from.”
“So, for instance, when he fought Jose Aldo, his movement, his wide stance, his speed was on point. Like, he’s back to that, man, at a heavier weight. Which is scary.”
“And if you ever shook Conor’s hand, the dude’s got a bigger fist than I do. Like he’s got a melon of a fist. I’m like, what the heck, man? No wonder he puts people out with that one-hitter quitter punch. But he’s back to his movement, man.”
“You’re gonna see a better [Conor]. I think he’s listened to the fans. You know, his last two fights with Poirier was kind of in that boxer mentality. He’s gotta get back to his roots of movement, and that’s what we’re gonna see from Conor next time he steps out there,” Thompson said to Submission Radio.
McGregor’s karate-style stance and movement are influenced by his background in boxing and kickboxing, as well as his training with karate fighters like Gunnar Nelson. He switches stances between southpaw and orthodox depending on whether he wants to be defensive or offensive. He also uses his exceptional range control and timing to land his lethal left cross and other strikes.
This style of fighting was most evident in McGregor’s performances against Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez, where he knocked them out in 13 seconds and two rounds respectively to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously. He also used it effectively against Nate Diaz in their rematch in 2016.
However, after focusing on boxing for his lucrative bout against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, McGregor seemed to adopt a more boxing-centric style that sacrificed some of his mobility and versatility. He also bulked up to fight at lightweight and welterweight, which may have affected his speed and endurance. This style did not work well against Poirier, who exploited McGregor’s lack of leg kicks and calf kicks defense and pressured him with volume and power punches.
Now that McGregor has realized his mistake and gone back to his karate roots, he hopes to regain his former glory and prove that he is still one of the best fighters in the world. He will face a tough challenge in Chandler, who is also a powerful striker with wrestling credentials. But if McGregor can show the same movement, speed, and precision that made him a superstar, he may be able to pull off another spectacular knockout.
As a full-time coach himself, Thompson saw McGregor as a great coach inside The Ultimate Fighter house.
“Dude, he’s a great coach,” Thompson said. “And, he cares a lot about his guys. And that’s fun to watch and see, because, me coming from that, that’s what I do for a living. And to be able to see Conor kind of share that, you know, I’ve seen a lot of guys teach, and you realize real quick that they don’t care about it. And I always tell people this, when it comes to teaching, people don’t really care how much you know, we only wanna know how much you care. And that was kind of Conor the whole time. Like, he cared about his guys.”
McGregor has shown his coaching skills before when he led Team Europe against Team USA in The Ultimate Fighter season 22, where he mentored fighters like Artem Lobov, Saul Rogers, and Marcin Wrzosek. He also helped his teammates at SBG Ireland, such as James Gallagher and Dillon Danis, to improve their striking skills.
McGregor will have a chance to showcase his karate-style fighting and his coaching abilities when he faces Chandler later this year. It will be a clash of styles, skills and wills that fans won’t want to miss.
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