"Going over to Vegas would have completely destroyed three important cycles of training"
Conor McGregor returns to UFC 200 this morning, with the card's main event with Nate Diaz still set to go ahead.
McGregor was pulled after a dispute over attending a press conference in Las Vegas, a move which his coach John Kavanagh believes would have been detrimental to his training.
"Shortly after we arrived in Portugal a couple of weeks ago for some training, we learned that the UFC wanted Conor to be in Vegas this past Friday for a press conference. Having put a meticulous plan in place for Conor’s preparations for the fight, this didn’t suit us at all.
"Negotiations to get Conor out of the press conference then began, because we had just started the first of three important cycles of training. Going over to Vegas would have completely destroyed that. Do you want to see Conor’s best performances or hear his best soundbites?"
UFC president Dana White speaks beside an empty chair where Conor McGregor was supposed to sit during a news conference for UFC 200. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Kavanagh was writing in his column with The42.ie and pointed out that McGregor isn't a typical case in this industry.
"Conor has saved a couple of big pay-per-view cards in the past by unconditionally accepting late-notice opponent changes, so we thought he had earned some leeway as a result. But apparently not.
"There were 11 other fighters on the stage at Friday’s press conference, but their situations are incomparable to Conor's. They showed up, but they didn't have to fly halfway across the world to do so.
"Nate Diaz could have driven there from his house. Conor lives in Dublin and is currently training in Iceland, which isn't quite as close to Las Vegas as Stockton is. At least it wasn't when I last checked.
"For Conor, even one day of press stuff in Las Vegas means he loses several days of training. Then you’re also dealing with readjusting to the time zones. It’s not quite as simple as sitting on a stage and answering questions for half an hour. It messes you up and it becomes impossible to maintain any sort of routine.
"In the last year, Conor has probably clocked up more airmiles than everyone else on that stage combined. He offered to do a press conference in New York instead, which would be halfway for both him and Diaz. It’s a six-hour flight, you could do it in a weekend. But that was rejected by the UFC. It was all or nothing. Conor went with nothing."
McGregor on his way to being submitted at UFC 196. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
McGregor will look to exact revenge on Diaz who submitted him in the second round of their main event bout at UFC 196.
"No other fighter is generating as much money as Conor is. Therefore, they’re not quite equal when it comes to the decision-making process. That’s the same in any company. If one employee is bringing in the same amount of money as all the other employees combined, he’s going to get a bigger office. That’s life. The other reason it’s not equal is the amount of travel that’s involved for Diaz and Conor.
"Nothing is more important than the contest. It’s not the media obligations that are the problem. Conor was willing to make himself available via Skype or do a press conference in Dublin or Iceland, where we are now. But that idea also wasn’t entertained."
Before this morning's announcement, Kavanagh contemplated whether or not McGregor would feature on a different card and says that the media attention surrounding the withdrawal can only be positive.
"There’s no such thing as bad publicity. The UFC will be loving the fact that this situation has generated so much hype. What’s the build-up for the next one going to be like as a result? But if Conor is on another card, we've got to talk early about when and where press conferences are held."