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MMA Pyschologist: ‘McGregor’s mind games could be the 1% difference’

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In just over a week’s time, we will finally see Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor collide at UFC 194 for the UFC featherweight title. Both men have endured long tough training camp’s and are ready physically but who is ready mentally?

We asked sports psychologist James Barraclough to break down the mental aspect of this fight. James is a lecturer at The Manchester College and is also the author of The MMA Psychology Manual and has been involved in the psychology of MMA since 2003 and has worked with several elite fighters including two world champions and James says this fight will come down to who is ready not just physically but more importantly mentally.

‘At elite level it’s probably mostly mental as physical/technical/tactical tend to balance out, depends on fighters strengths/weaknesses ie ground game/stand up. It’s how fighters deal with mental factors on the
night ie concentration, confidence and dealing with nerves, that’s what it could come down to’.

In the build up to this fight, McGregor has constantly insulted and taunted Aldo but will this benefit McGregor in any way?

‘Trash talking fighters can have positive or negative effect depending on the person on the receiving end and how they handle it. It can unsettle some fighters, others can laugh it off and see through it as mind games. Self-confidence would be massive here. Any insecurity could cause trash talk to be more effective. This would probably need to be managed effectively by Aldo’s team’.

McGregor has constantly stated his mind is bullet proof and many people have agreed that McGregor’s mindset is what separate’s him the most from other athletes but could it also be his downfall?

‘I think an aura of invincibility can be good as it can put doubts in the other fighters mind. Mike Tyson & Muhammad Ali were masters at this. This is a danger of being over confident and believing your own hype which could potentially make you too arrogant and consequently become a bit lazy and complacent. Therefore, you still need to respect your opponent in private if not in public’.

We have seen in McGregor’s previous fights he likes to talk and taunt his opponent’s inside the octagon, is this another mental strategy and more importantly is it effective?

‘Talking to your opponent may be effective again dependent on your opponent’s mindset. It can undermine them if they’re vulnerable. An MMA coach I worked with was expert at this from the corner, constantly talking to his own fighter but in a way that chipped away at the other fighters confidence’.

Would you consider McGregor’s mindset the strongest we have seen in the UFC?

‘I would certainly agree that McGregor is mentally tough, he talks the talk but also walks the walk! I think being arrogant is excusable if you’re that good. However, as I mentioned above he needs to ensure that he doesn’t start to slacken off. An example I’ve used in the past is rocky 3 the first time he fights clubber Lang and takes victory for granted and loses! I know it’s fiction but art imitates life’.

James says McGregor’s mind games could be the extra 1% difference in him unifying the UFC featherweight title and uses Tyson Fury’s antics as a perfect example.

‘Whats very topical now is how Tyson Fury got into Klitschko’s head last week. There was the bat man stuff, and then making them change the ring and Klitschko not being able to wrap his hands in private. There can be a tiny fraction of 1% difference between winning & losing so top athletes use whatever they can, what Dave Brailsford at British cycling called marginal gains. That could be the difference in this fight’.

For all the build up to UFC 194 and all your latest news in the world of MMA make sure to follow MMA Latest News on Facebook and Twitter.

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Conor McGregor

Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture

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When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.

Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”

White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”

Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.

The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.

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Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219

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On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.

“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter.  “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox.  My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.

Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia. 

 

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Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’

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Despite being inactive since his historic boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, Conor McGregor is never far from the headlines. Recently his out of cage antics have got people questioning if he’ll ever be back.

Thankfully the UFC lightweight champion appears to have cleared up any rumors about his fighting career.

Speaking to his sponsor Betsafe, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “My focus is getting back into the right ring or octagon. 2017 was historic. I have transcended both the sport of MMA and boxing. At this stage of my career, as it has been for the majority of my UFC career, potential opponents must lobby for fights with me. We could see Conor McGregor anywhere. I run the fight game, the fashion game, the whiskey game or whatever the next business endeavor might be”.

McGregor added, “I have every intention of fighting in 2018 if my compensation and business development endeavors accurately reflect my influence on combat sports.”

This comes just two weeks after UFC President Dana White told reporters “Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got $100 (expletive) million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working.”

White went on to say “Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”

White also told reporters that the “Notorious one”, “can’t be paid enough money” and that he is “worth every penny and more.” McGregor’s recent statement suggests he knows that and won’t be back till his demands are met.

The UFC lightweight division has been stalled in the absence of the champion McGregor and now the interim champion Tony Ferguson has undergone surgery. The UFC has been known the remove belts from fighters who have been delayed for extended amounts of time, this would be highly unlikely with the popularity of McGregor.

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