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Ido Portal says he sees 'huge difference' in welterweight version of Conor McGregor ahead of UFC 196

Ido Portal believes Conor McGregor will turn heads in his welterweight debut at UFC 196.

Portal, who serves as McGregor's personal movement coach, has worked closely with the Irish superstar for some time now, helping him prepare for both his most recent victory at UFC 194 over Jose Aldo and his current bout against Nate Diaz at UFC 196.

Now, with McGregor fighting at 170 pounds – 25 pounds heavier than the featherweight limit he competed at during UFC 194 – Portal notices differences with the UFC champ's attitude and body alike.

"The first thing, [McGregor is] just happy, eating out, jolly, jolly man," Portal told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "[There is a] huge difference, just, the pressure is off. Now it’s real, everything is open. All the possibilities are there. He’s energized, yeah, we can play with a lot more things closer and closer to the fights. It’s a huge difference.

"You know how the SBG gang grows, and I’m in the same mindset. They don’t really prepare for specific opponents, so we just use every minute to develop ourselves and continue to develop new skills and new patterns."

Leading up to the fight, Portal virtually shadows McGregor, spending a considerable amount of time with him in preparation for the looming showdown. Because of this, Portal can shed insight on McGregor's mentality and confidence levels, something he's more than happy to do.

"I have to say, it’s [the confidence is] on another level with Conor for sure, but all of the SBG gang has this kind of mindset, Gunni [UFC welterweight Gunnar Nelson] and [UFC featherweight] Artem [Lobov] as well," Portal said. "They’re ready to fight. They embody the martial artist, kind of always living on your sword kind of thing, ready to fight, ready to deal with anyone, any size."

This quality came in handy for McGregor, as his original opponent at UFC 196 – UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos – pulled out of their scheduled affair just two weeks before fight night. Diaz quickly stepped up and in, but none of the seeming chaos much affected McGregor.

"It [the change] was not a big deal," Portal said. "There were a few moments of disappointment with the belt not being on the line anymore, but it [was] really quick, kind of a recalibration, continue on with the plan and just finding out who will be the man. Once that has been determined, yeah, everything is on schedule like usual."

That said, one benefit of Diaz's presence is the talk that can now take place between the two, a point exemplified during their pre-fight press conference in Torrance, Calif.

"I think it’s great that finally there is a little bit of an exchange and Conor can play his game," Portal said. "Because with Jose, the language barrier did not allow that."

When the cage door closes and the talk is finished, Portal said McGregor's mind and body will be as focused and ready as ever. His movements will be sharp, and his execution will be on point.

"The last kind of intense day was yesterday [Sunday], and now we are just kind of keeping everything sharp, and now something that is very often ignored is keeping the mindset, keeping the motivation, the fun, everything flowing throughout the day, so small, small sessions, that barely fatigue and break out a sweat," Portal said. "[We'll do] a lot of coordination drills, staying light on the feet, and then letting the body also recover so he can step in there totally fresh, which he is, that would be great again to see."

Portal's involvement with McGregor's game ends there, though. When asked if he will study Diaz's movements leading into the bout, Portal said he will not – and Conor really won't, either.

"It’s not my game [to study Conor’s opponent], and really, Conor himself doesn’t really look much, you know?" Portal said. "You’re aware he’s a southpaw, orthodox, the basic things or certain tendencies, but really [we're] not dwelling on it. You’ll be surprised, Ariel, in the house, there is no talk about that.

"There is no planning. We’re just having fun. We’re just moving around. We’re sharpening the tools – all tools – regardless of the opponent. And that’s what allows Conor, really, to fight different opponents, different weight classes, short notice, again and again and again."

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