Conor McGregor has the same impact on people as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, his MMA coach John Kavanagh has claimed.
The former UFC lightweight champion hasn’t set foot inside the cage since his UFC 264 trilogy with Dustin Poirier, which he lost via technical knockout.
McGregor’s hiatus from the Octagon is largely down to the breaking of his left leg’s lower tibia, more commonly known as the shin bone, last July.
However, the Irishman recently managed to take part in a jiu-jitsu class at the SBG Ireland gym in Dublin last week for the first time in over a year.
Kavanagh told the BBC: “He just walks in and takes part in a regular jiu-jitsu class, and you’ve got guys on the mat there who have only been training a couple of months.
“So imagine like a group of guys on the park having a kickaround, and then Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo comes up and says ‘hey, I’ll join in’ – it really elevates everybody’s attitude on the mat.
“He’s got that true kind of martial arts personality. He comes in and approaches training with such a focus and positive energy, and really puts everything into every drill.
“And then of course he’s always incredibly generous with his praise, and it’s very well received, he’s a very very special part of the gym, as a whole, and I’ll say my life.”
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Nicknamed ‘Notorious’, McGregor is known for being rather brash and outspoken, with his trash talk bordering on the controversial at times more often than not.
However, Kavanagh says he sees a different side to him away from the cameras and public scrutiny.
He added: “I always tell people, they see this kind of performance part of his persona.
“It’s two or three times a year, at the press conferences and it’s all very loud and glitzy and glamour and entertainment, but it’s the 52-weeks-of-the-year guy that part of me wishes some people would be more aware of.
“How he is walking on the mat, he gives a handshake to everybody, and is always incredibly respectful towards me as a coach, saying ‘yes sir and no sir’, and lining up at the end of the class when everybody bows down.”