LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor always talks about how he plans on “changing the game” when it comes to training for mixed martial arts, and how all the other UFC fighters are “stuck” in their routines.
McGregor’s unique approach to keeping the body healthy and fresh and “ahead of the game” was on full display Thursday at the UFC 194 open workouts at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
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McGregor, the interim featherweight champion, danced from one side of the stage alongside other with his movement coach, Ido Portal. He did forward rolls, backward rolls and something resembling an Army crawl.
Then out came the stick.
Portal held the stick, which was about the size of a broomstick or stickball bat, in different positions and angles as McGregor either rolled under it or did handstands over it. If McGregor were to become an art thief and have to circumvent an elaborate security system of lasers like in the movie “Oceans’ 12,” well, he would be quite successful.
As it is, “The Notorious” McGregor has been quite successful in his chosen career. He’s the biggest star in the UFC . . . and he’s only an interim champion. McGregor gets his chance to unify the title Saturday when he challenges true champion Jose Aldo, a Brazilian who hasn’t lost a fight in 10 years.
“Respect, for me, is earned through battle,” McGregor said of Aldo. “If he shows up, fights with his heart, he’ll have my respect. But I cannot respect a man that has run, that has evaded. If he stands across from me in the octagon and gives me the exchanges he says he can, he’ll have my respect.”
“I feel he feels like he’s handcuffed. He’s handcuffed and forced into this. He doesn’t want to be here.”