Conor McGregor's movement drills with ponytailed coach Ido Portal were a daily highlight of UFC Embedded over the last week. McGregor was putting out candles with his fists. Or dancing on the beach. Or something else that looked completely ridiculous compared to everyone else's preparation.
McGregor knows you're laughing at him and his movement coach. He'll be laughing all the way to the bank, though.
"The Notorious" became the undisputed UFC featherweight champion by knocking out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds Saturday night in the main event of UFC 194 in Las Vegas. McGregor said he was injury and pain free when he woke up Saturday morning -- and his mind was free because of it. He credits the work he has done with Portal, a parkour master.
"You know when you have something that's hurt, it's in your brain and it travels down," McGregor said on the Fox Sports 1 post-fight now. "I didn't have that. I was just in complete freedom, because that was the training. It paid off for me."
McGregor (19-2) swears by movement. It's one of the things that intrigues him most about fighting. He speaks about it in almost every interview. McGregor has said he studies animals and the way they move as well. He believes his commitment to movement and freeing the body separate him from the rest.
"Your body is in the same spot all the time," McGregor said. "What happens is people jump out of bed, brush their teeth, stuff their faces with food, make their way to the gym, barely warm up, do 10 rounds, go home, rest, eat, go back to the gym. You can just feel that body locking. I'm waking up and the first thing I'm doing now is spinal waves. I can actually hear it. ... It's like you're loosening the cobwebs. And it's been paying off for me."
That doesn't mean McGregor doesn't do all the regular, run-of-the-mill things in training camp. Just because he thinks outside-the-box doesn't mean he's not adequately prepared in all the important areas.
"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I still spar. I still do it all. But I think you must, especially fight week, you're not supposed to damage your body.
"Everyone was saying when I brought in Ido to do the movement drills it was all kind of fun and games, but it's fight week. You're supposed to be free in your movement."
McGregor was free to angle off a right hand from Aldo and land a crushing left hook to the jaw Saturday night. Aldo face planted to the mat. And just like that, the longtime champion had been slayed. McGregor had fulfilled his prophecy, shut up the doubters and, maybe, got Portal some more MMA work to boot.
Rather than beating up his body, McGregor is committed to freeing it. Sounds more novel than anything else, but the proof is in the pudding.
"I'm ready, I'm free," McGregor said. "My body is fresh for it. Rather than just rushing -- boom, get 10 rounds jiu-jitsu, barely stretch, get back home to the kids. I know you all do it. It's like an addiction and if you don't get them hard rounds, you're like 'f*ck.'
"The point is slow it down, free the body. That's what it's about. Freedom of movement."