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Action at a Distance: John Kavanagh on Coaching across Two Continents

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll


Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Due to his commitments to Gunnar Nelson and Cathal Pendred in Sweden, John Kavanagh will have to leave his coaching obligations to Aisling Daly and Artem Lobov with regard to Paddy Holohan’s second UFC outing this Saturday when he faces late replacement Chris Kelades.

Although it has happened before with various Straight Blast Gym fighters as they rose through the European ranks, the fact that this is only Holohan’s second outing under the UFC banner you would think that being without the influential coach could unsettle the unbeaten flyweight.

However, Kavanagh referred to a lesson he learned at the expense of Mike Tyson’s downfall after the death of his legendary coach Cus D’Amato on why he believes Holohan will be unaffected by his absence in Canada.

“I was always disappointed with what happened to Mike Tyson after Cus D’Amato died,” said Kavanagh. “It appeared that he put an awful lot into Tyson raising him as a fighter and a human being. Yet, as soon as D’Amato disappeared, Tyson seemed to fall off. It always disappointed me that Tyson didn’t learn from the various life lessons that he had been taught by his coach and continue on after his passing.

“Everybody is meant to do that. A father dies and his son is meant to carry on, if you think of it in those terms. For Paddy, if anything was to go wrong because I wasn’t there I would be hugely disappointed in myself, I’d have done a terrible job. That would be dependent on the fact that me being there would have any effect whatsoever on what happens in the fight.

“It’s not like I’m teaching him how to armbar someone from beside the cage. The technical side is 100 per cent finished at that stage. There are little things that I do like getting my fighters in the right frame of mind, but even then I’m talking more about my amateurs.

“For a 10-0 pro like Paddy it won’t be an issue. Apart from Gunni he has the best record on the team, he’s been training with me since he was 16, he’s a coach at my gym, I consider him a close friend and on top of that he’ll be travelling with the other half of what I call ‘The Terrible Twosome’, Aisling Daly.

“They’re as thick as thieves. They do a lot of work together outside of the training I give them. They have their own training sessions in the gym. Of all the people I train, I can safely say that it will make no difference for Paddy to be without me in his corner for a fight.”

Kavanagh also referred to the closeness of his fight team and the history he has with Holohan. Such is the strength of their bond that the SBG head coach referred to scientific theory when considering what impact he could have on ‘The Hooligan’ when he steps in the Octagon to trade leather with Kelades.

“At the stage that Paddy is at, having had ten pro fights for me, it’s not just a team anymore, it’s family. I have a big fight team but in terms of pro fighters that have had plus ten fights for me, there’s not a lot of them.

“We have all been together for over ten years. There’s a thing called ‘action at a distance’ in quantum physics where two particles are on opposite ends of the universe and when you change the spin on one, the spin on the other will change instantaneously as well. That’s how our minds work,” he finished.

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