John Kavanagh: Ankle Injury During Camp May Have Contributed to McGregor Loss at UFC 264

By Tristen Critchfield Jul 11, 2021

Conor McGregor’s fight-ending injury at UFC 264 may have been caused in part by a pre-existing injury.

According to SBG Ireland head trainer John Kavanagh, McGregor suffered an ankle injury during camp that could have played a role in the apparent break that ended his trilogy with Dustin Poirier after one round.

“A little bit of that ankle injury has been aggravated during camp,” Kavanagh said during an Instagram Q&A (transcription via “We got a scan on it. Did that have a small part to play in weakening it? I don’t know. We were (with a doctor) a couple weeks ago to get a scan on the ankle. … There might’ve been something in there. It would seem unusual that a young, healthy, fit man could wrap his foot around an elbow and without there being something (wrong) there before. You can play those guessing games all day long.”

Poirier, meanwhile, claimed in his post-fight interview that the injury occurred due to a checked kick earlier in the fight.

“He fractured it on one of the checks at the beginning of the fight, then it broke on a punch, for sure,” Poirier said in the Octagon. “I pointed at him at the beginning of the fight, that's when I checked a kick, that's when it cracked.”

Kavanagh, meanwhile, believes he can pinpoint the moment in the fight where McGregor suffered the break.

“He throws a leg kick, and then he threw a teep,” Kavanagh said. “That’s clearly where the fracture happened. He threw it aggressive kick, Dustin shelled with the lead hand and the foot wraps around the elbow in a similar fashion to [Anderson] Silva and [Chris] Weidman. They wrapped their foot around the shin, he wrapped his shin around the elbow.”

Kavanagh had a largely positive assessment of the fight before the unfortunate ending. McGregor began the fight attacking with a variety of kicks, targeting Poirier’s legs in particular. And even though the former two-division champ appeared to be in danger on his back later in the round, the trainer was confident his fighter was in a positive place had the fight continued.

“It was going fantastic,” Kavanagh said. “I thought he looked really, really good in there. … I wasn’t concerned at all. I was actually really, really happy. … At the 4:30 mark or even the 4:45 mark, everything is gravy. I thought energy looked good, technique looked good. A few adjustments in between rounds and I thought Round 2 we were well on track to getting a finish there or keep the rhythm going for the rest of the fight.

“Credit to Dustin. He won. It’s an unfulfilling end to the night. … It doesn’t feel properly finished. (There was no) closure.”

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