CONOR McGREGOR returns to UFC action this weekend when he takes on Dustin Poirier.
And one of the best strikers in the business has a team around him that have helped him get to the top.
SunSport has had a deep dive into some of the team behind the success that has helped McGregor with his boxing skills
THE two-time Olympian was Conor McGregor’s first coach as a fighter.
Sutcliffe, who boxed at Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, is the main man at Crumlin Boxing Club.
And that is where McGregor became a fighter — often sparring with the coach’s champion son Phil Jr — before moving to mixed martial arts.
‘The Notorious’ told SunSport in 2015: “Phil Sutcliffe is a phenomenal boxing coach and my time under Phil in Crumlin, I learned so many fundamentals I still carry with me today.
“I learned so many shots off Phil and the coaching staff. And the sparring with Phil Sutcliffe Jr in my early days was phenomenal, it got me to that next level.”
McGregor and Sutcliffe remained friendly as the Dubliner became the biggest name in the UFC.
But their working relationship did not resume until well after ‘The Money Fight’ which saw McGregor make his pro boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
Having lost his UFC lightweight title to Khabib Nurmagomedov the following year, McGregor went back to his Crumlin roots.
In April 2019 he fought Elite amateur boxer Michael McGrane in an exhibition bout at the club and he and Sutcliffe have worked hand in hand since.
In December 2019 he fought another Elite amateur in John Joe Nevin — not to be confused with the 2012 Olympic silver medallist — on a Christmas show at the club.
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Two-time European Championships medallist Sutcliffe was part of his camp for the knockout win over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and is part of Team McGregor for the Dustin Poirier rematch.
Even ‘Coach’ John Kavanagh is a big fan, writing on Instagram: “National champion, 2 time european medalist plus two-time Olympian just to list some of his achievements as an athlete.
“However it’s his decades of working as an elite coach that really stand out. To have brought multiple generations through their entire athletic career from 7-8yr old starting off up to World Champion has given him some experience and insights that cannot even begin to be shared here.
“Put simply he’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know.”
In February 2020, moneybags McGregor donated a boxing ring to his old club to show his appreciation for their part in his career.
A WATERFORD boxer with a relentless work ethic and will to succeed.
Moran, 26, told SunSport in 2020: “The ambition is to be world champion within two years. Hopefully I’ll be telling you I told you so!”
And that was before going to work with McGregor, who called him in for stand-up sparring before his latest UFC comeback.
McGregor is planning a bout with Manny Pacquiao for later in the year so Moran could find more work in mimicking his fellow southpaw between the ropes.
Moran turned pro in 2017 and racked up wins in England, Ireland and Mexico before suffering a defeat on his US debut against Dennis Okoth two years later.
That halted his plans Stateside.
But Moran bounced back with victories in London, Austria, Germany and Spain to take his record to 15-1.
His time in camp has raised his profile, to the extent that YouTube wannabe fighter Jake Paul poked fun at him, showing clips of his defeat to Okoth.
Moran responded with a call-out video of his own, offering to travel to the US and spar him for free in Mayweather’s gym.
Fellow boxer Tiernan Bradley, a gym-mate of Moran at Steven O’Rourke’s Inchicore club in Dublin, was McGregor’s sparring partner for the Mayweather fight.
And he reckons his pal will enjoy seeing his name in lights.
Bradley told SunSport’s Rocky Road: Rewind podcast: “It’s massive for Dylan. Dylan has 16 or so fights as a pro, he had that unfortunate loss over in America. I spoke to Dylan about that fight — a lot of things went wrong in that camp. He should have won that fight.
“But he’s come back so strong since then. He’s had knocks that would put many fighters off.
“With Jake Paul calling him out, I know Dylan and he’s laughing this off. He’s loving it. He’s loving to see this happen — and a lot of Waterford fans are loving this too because Jake Paul is calling out one of their own with his what, 20million followers on Instagram?
“I saw it and was like, ‘Oh my God, what a cheeky . . . ’, but it’s fantastic for Dylan and his callback video was class. Sitting in the Lambo, chilling in Dubai, not a worry in the world — and saying he doesn’t want money but to fight him in a doghouse war.”
CRUMLIN boxing sidekick to Sutcliffe, Patrick ‘Bra’ Brady has been a huge figure in McGregor’s development.
When Sutcliffe joined the team for the Cerrone fight a year ago, right-hand man Brady was with him. By then, McGregor’s 15-year debt had been paid. As a plumber’s apprentice, the aspiring fighter got a €70 loan from his coach to buy tools.
It was only paid back in 2019, after his reunion with Crumlin BC, with McGregor a multi-millionaire.
Larger-than-life Brady accepted a cheque — one he will frame, not cash — and joked: “That’s the money he owes me from 15 years ago.
“I got him his tools when he was going off to do his plumbing and he never paid me back. Every time I see him I say, ‘Don’t forget you owe me that few bob’.”
Brady and Sutcliffe are recipients of lifetime achievement awards from the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
And with amateur boxing stalled in Ireland — fighters cannot train and tournaments are off due to Covid-19 restrictions — they have used their time to coach their most famous former student.
Sutcliffe and Brady worked with McGregor in his Algarve training camp and are now in Abu Dhabi, ready for the big one tonight.
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