Former UFC title contender turned commentator Chael Sonnen is blaming Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh for getting him axed from UFC 200.
According to Sonnen, Kavanagh is to be blamed for robbing McGregor of his leverage during his tussle with the UFC by going public with pleas for McGregor to be given fights at UFC 200 and 205.
The Irishman tried to exert pressure on the organisation in order to have some of his demands met, like not having to agree to another glut of promotional commitments ahead of his rematch with Nick Diaz, but instead found himself on the receiving end of a power play by UFC boss Dana White, who removed him from the UFC 200 card.
Sonnen believes the reason that McGregor was outmaneuvered is because Kavanagh undermined him at a crucial point in the negotiations.
“His coach cannot be putting anything out about him ever. Period. Ever. Because he doesn’t get it. Respectfully, coach Kavanagh, You don’t get it. You don’t get it! Your student does. He gets it,” Sonnen said on his Beyond The Fight podcast.
“Conor knows what’s going on. Every time you talk and think you’re helping him, you’re not. You’re hurting the cause. You have to stop.
“Conor cannot put a post saying, ‘Money made, bills paid, game slayed, your move,’ which means, ‘I do not care what happens, I’m handled either way. It’s your move.’ He can’t do that and three days later have you come out saying hey fans, please petition and get him back. You can’t do it.
“It’s never good for a trainer or manager to do this. Whether it comes from a good place or not, you look like you’re trying to get paid. If one guy is sitting there, and the whole hand he’s playing is, ‘I got enough, I don’t need to do it, won the title, got the money, don’t care, having a great life.’ If he’s playing that, that’s a pretty good hand. But you can’t show cracks in it.
“You’re talking about UFC 200, UFC New York, and why we’re blacklisted. Wait a minute, I thought the game was slayed, the bills were paid, and the money was made? That was their move. Now you’re begging to get on a card?
“You guys have got to get on the same page. You want to hustle some hustlers, you better believe you’ve got to be on the same page. You can’t have one guy say I don’t give a damn, and have his trainer say, ‘Boy, we sure would like to fight, can someone send some tweets in our favour?’ It doesn’t work. Once there’s a crack, it’s unravelled, and the gig is up.
“You want to fight. You need the fight. The bills are not paid, the money is not made, and the game damn sure hasn’t been slayed. That’s the reality. We all knew that, and it was cool when it came out, but your own guy outed you.”
Despite seemingly being put in his place, some pundits still believe that McGregor has scored a victory for fighter rights.
Former UFC title contender Dan Hardy reckons a greater movement for fighter rights is on the horizon.
“It’s inevitable that the sport is going to evolve,” Hardy said. “We can’t imagine it’s going to stay locked and frozen in the state it’s in right now. Everything seems to grow around it, when the balance and ethics in the sport don’t change. The fighters are eventually going to fight back, which happened in boxing a while back.”