UFC icon Henry Cejudo details the changes Conor McGregor needs for a successful comeback
Former UFC champion Henry Cejudo has analysed Conor McGregor’s skillset as the Irishman’s return to the Octagon seemingly edges nearer, with the American identifying the areas in which “Notorious” most needs to improve.
McGregor has not fought since suffering a broken leg in July 2021, when he lost to Dustin Poirier for the second time in six months. Those results saw McGregor’s record slip to 1-3 dating back to 2016, when he added the lightweight title to his featherweight strap.
And, as the 34-year-old plots a return to the ring, Cejudo has taken to YouTube to suggest the changes McGregor must make in order to hit his former heights.
The American, an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and former dual-weight UFC champion like McGregor, explained: “He’s been throwing a little too much power a little too early, especially going up in weight to 155lbs.
“You need to learn how to reserve that energy. If I were your coach, I’ve never make you do 170lbs [the weight at which McGregor fought Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone], because anybody can fight at any weight, but I will I perform? Will I actually win? So, my biggest thing with Conor McGregor is he needs to either stick to 145lbs – yep, I said go back – or really hone in on 155lbs. Get rid of 170lbs; 185lbs, that’s all talk.
“Make a decision, have a right gameplan, because your threshold at 170lbs does not translate. He’s got to go back to: ‘Precision beats power, and timing beats speed.’ What happened to that Conor? You don’t have that resistance, that endurance to go through a five-round fight. You also have to respect your opponent; you’re not gonna be able to finish them all.”
McGregor, who has bulked up considerably while away from the Octagon, has suggested that his return could come at 170lbs or 185lbs, though he has predominantly fought at 145lbs and 155lbs.
“Now, let’s get to technique,” Cejudo continued. “What is it that he needs to add? He needs to add clinch, and he needs to add wrestling.
“Clinch is because, at times when you’re tired, you’ll be able to hug! There’s rest periods that you have, and the clinch is one of them, but you’ve got to get accustomed to that. The last thing you want to do when you’re tired is take hits.
“His stance is actually really No 1 [to be changed]. You get kicked a lot because you’re too wide. You need to narrow your stance. These are a lot of deficiencies. I know it sucks, because it feels like I’m picking on Conor, and I’m really nitpicking him, but I need to be honest here.”
Cejudo added: “Tactics, this is his worst enemy, as much as it used to be his greatest [asset].
“You fight everybody the same. You’ve actually become more emotional now, and that’s the stuff that actually hurts you. So, if there’s anywhere out of all these where Conor McGregor can really make a difference, it’s [tactically]; knowing how to fight everybody differently. If you have a gameplan for everybody, even if they’re stronger or faster, you can beat them all.”
Cejudo held the UFC men’s flyweight and bantamweight titles simultaneously in 2019 before stepping away from mixed martial arts in 2020.
Like McGregor, the 35-year-old has been rumoured to return to the UFC this year, having been linked to a clash with reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling.
Click here to subscribe to The Independent’s Sport YouTube channel for all the latest sports videos.