Last April, Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho died due to injuries he suffered during a fight in Dublin to middleweight Charlie Ward — Conor McGregor’s teammate at his gym in Ireland. Carvalho lost via technical knockout. Shortly after, the fighter began feeling ill and was rushed to the hospital where he had brain surgery. He passed away a few days later.

“Damn, I still can’t believe that kid is dead,” said McGregor. “It’s f–ked up. I wasn’t just watching that fight. I helped train a guy to kill someone, and then someone wound up dying.”

Conor McGregor watching Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 on July 9...
Conor McGregor sat cageside during a bout the late Joao Carvalho lost by TKO. Carvalho died days later due to an injury to the brain.

McGregor was in Ward’s corner and sat ringside, taking in all the action. After Carvalho’s death, McGregor criticized the officiating and felt the fight could have been stopped earlier than it was. The official inside the cage however, referee Mariusz Domasat stood by his call.

“This is a f–king dangerous game. People call it a sport, but it’s fighting. I’m just making sure it ain’t me. And that’s f–ked up,” said McGregor, who also mentioned that he hopes MMA referees learn a lesson from the Carvalho’s passing.

MMA is beautiful in its synergy of multiple fighting disciplines. At its best, the sport represents the human being’s limitless potential of self-improvement. Yet nothing can change the fact that it is a full contact sports and accidents do happen.

McGregor vs. Diaz at UFC 196, March 5, 2016
McGregor is set to face Nate Diaz in a much awaited rematch at UFC 202 in Las Vegas.

McGregor says he knows full well of the risks of cage fighting, and is just trying his best to prepare himself physically to lessen the risk.

“People are so caught in a routine, doing the same things over and over,” said McGregor. “I want to be an expert in different fighting styles, new training methods, new ways of thinking.”

One of the most heavily criticized aspects of McGregor’s game is his lack of grappling skills. Nate Diaz, whom McGregor faces in a highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 202 later this month, finished McGregor by submission in their first bout.

Because of this, McGregor has been working incessantly on improving his grappling skills.

“I’ve learned new footwork patterns that are very unusual. I’ve learned how to find a lower centre of gravity, and I’ve found more angles to throw shots,” said McGregor, who is known for his unorthodox striking techniques. “In a bout, I’m not just fighting another man. I’m dealing with another man and the ground. I want to understand how the ground can be my friend.”

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