Conor McGregor admits he was drinking during Khabib training camp
"I've made mistakes... I'm not going back there."
McGregor drinking and disappearing for days on end was part of a "heartbreaking" fight camp, says John Kavanagh.
Conor McGregor is days out from his UFC return and he appears to be in a much better place than when we last saw him prepare for a trip to The Octagon.
Back in September and early October, in 2018, McGregor's fight-hype personality was ramped up to 11 and his back-and-forths with Khabib Nurmagomedov were petty and ugly. The cheek and charm of previous press conferences and face-offs had gone and, in the second of their two press outings, McGregor sipped whiskey and offered some to his tee-total opponent.
'The Notorious' has admitted to Ariel Helwani that there was 'venom in me' around that UFC 229 lightweight title bout and it seeped into his fight camp and daily life.
During a wide-ranging interview with Helwani, McGregor at one stage mentioned that he had not touched a drop of alcohol in his fight camp ahead of the Cerrone bout. Pressed on that comment, McGregor said:
"I was drinking all bleeding fight week the last time. I was on the Conan O'Brien show [drinking]."
Asked if he was drinking in the build-up to that Nurmagomedov fight, the Dubliner responded, "Yeah... Not really [that common in my career]. Not really. Not to that extent, no. Not to that extent." He continued:
"Don't know [why]. I just had this venom in me or something. I don't know why. I had people holed up in a hotel, from that part of the world [Russia], and I would ring and arrange a fight. So they come from the hotel down to the gym and have a full-blown fight; no head guard. I'd win. You know, we'd have a war, and I'd win, and I'd knock the guy out. And then I'd go off and celebrate, and then I'd come back in three days."
In another Helwani interview, McGregor's head coach John Kavanagh described his lapses in behaviour and focus, and disappearing acts, as "heartbreaking".
15 months on from that submission loss to Nurmagomedov, McGregor insists he has never felt better and that his focus is crystal clear. He wants to fight at least three times in 2020 and could even have four fights if there is a handy victory, or two, along the way.
"I'm in a great spot now," he says, "and that's it. And I've put... I've made mistakes. And, you know, I've been man enough to admit them and correct them. And that's what I've done."
He has 'made a promise to my team [and] my fans that I would stay 100% fully focused' but he says he will enjoy a drink of his own whiskey, Proper 12, after the fight has concluded.
The next time fight fans may catch glimpse of McGregor drinking, he comments, will be at his after-fight party in Las Vegas.
He will party, he says, take a rest day and then return to the gym next Monday. Ready to go again.