Win or Learn by John Kavanagh – Summary

Win or Learn by John Kavanagh - Summary
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Win or Learn by John Kavanagh is his story of how MMA exploded in Ireland and globally, recounting the extraordinary journey he took to become a guru to young fighters.

The book was published after Conor McGregor’s first loss in the UFC against Nate Diaz. The book captures not only Conor’s unprecedented run in the UFC but also Irelands stamp of authority in Mixed Martial Arts.

Conor McGregor had a meteoric rise in the UFC like no other and got a lot of fans into the sport like me. I followed his career right from the beginning but it’s sad to see what’s become of him now.

I took some time off from writing and wanted to get back to it again this year so I picked Win or Learn by John Kavanagh. I also hope Conor has one good last run before he calls it a day.

That Hunger and motivation he once had on his climb to the top is now gone but if there’s anyone that can come back from such a freak injury it’s got to be him.

John Kavanagh and SBG

After being bullied for years, John Kavanagh’s life changed when he learned mixed martial arts. A competitive fighter, his passion for coaching led him to open Straight Blast Gym (SBG).

John had the vision to make MMA mainstream in Ireland. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world right now but in the late 90s and early 2000s that wasn’t the case.

John Kavanagh graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the Dublin Institute of Technology. He knew he wouldn’t be happy by putting that degree to use so he pursued his passion for Mixed Martial Arts.

When people try to start something new out of the ordinary, they are often met with adversity. John Kavanagh’s story is no different there were plenty of times where he could have thrown the towel in but he carried on and saw his dream turn into reality.

The Rise of Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor was a troubled youth and was getting into fights as a teenager and wanted to know how to defend himself. He got his start with boxing in Crumlins Boxing Gym.

He would eventually dabble with other martial arts like Wrestling and JiuJitsu and one afternoon walked into John Kavanagh’s Straight Blast Gym and claimed to be a future UFC champion.

Conor sparred a few of the fighters from SBG and dropped a female fighter, Aisling Daly. John would have none of that and thought Conor a lesson, but the two ended up striking a formidable relationship thereafter.

Conor had a good striking background and always relied on his straight left to get the job done and didn’t worry about this ground game too much but after a couple of losses to submissions in the regional scene, he needed to get his act together.

Rise of Conor McGregor

Early on in his career Conor was mixing with the wrong crowd and wasn’t fully committed to training. After his 2 losses, Conor didn’t show up to train and was battling depression.

His Mother Margaret called John and asked him to speak with Conor, and the rest is history. They had an emotional exchange and Conor never missed class again.

Conor was a cocky fighter from Ireland who captured the capture the imagination of the people. He was a two-weight world champion from cage warriors and he predicted he would do the same in the UFC.

Conor McGregor’s UFC run

He went through the featherweight division like a hot knife through butter and cleaned out the division. He beat the defending champion, Jose Aldo, in 13 seconds who wasn’t beaten in 10 years.

He was a master of mind games and used psychological warfare like no other fighter in the UFC to his advantage. He got under his opponents’ skin and they seemed defeated even before they stepped into the cage.

Everything seemed to be going good for Conor but I think after the Floyd Mayweather fight the fire was gone. The money got to his head, and he is no longer the same hungry Conor he once was.

I don’t know any athlete that left on top of their game. They get to the top of the mountain and it’s a slide down face down, embarrassed exit stage left.

This quote from The Dark Knight comes to mind “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

“Only those who never stand up, never fall down.”

 John Kavanagh

Let’s see what happens in 2022.


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