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McGregor’s punching power not impressive says Van Heerden

By Dan Ambrose: Former welterweight contender Chris Van Heerden got the chance to spar with Conor McGregor not too long ago, and he came away from the sparring session totally impressed with the UFC fighter’s punching power.

McGregor’s power is supposed to be his only real chance of beating Floyd Mayweather Jr. one week from now in their mega-fight on August 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor, 29, is basically seen as a guy with just a puncher’s chance of beating the 40-year-old Mayweather. If the Irish fighter McGregor doesn’t even have a puncher’s chance, then what chance does he have?

Unfortunately, the only chance McGregor has of winning at this point is if old age catches up to Mayweather, causing him to suffer a bad injury that forces the fight to be stopped. Mayweather is like an old car with a lot of miles on it. There’s a chance Mayweather will break down at some point, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening. An old car will break down if you push it too hard. If McGregor doesn’t force the 40-yer-old Mayweather to fight at a fast pace for the entire fight, he’s going to get schooled. Mayweather will stay in 1st gear as much as he can to preserve his diminishing energy like he did in his boring fights against Andre Berto and Manny Pacquiao. McGregor must make Mayweather work hard for him to win.

“We had 16oz gloves on, we had headgears on — I was not fazed by his power at all,” said Van Heerden to Fighthub about his sparring with McGregor. ”I wasn’t. And I’ve been in the ring with a lot of guys that can hit. And I’ve been hit harder, way harder, by guys with 16oz gloves and headgear on. I was not fazed so it’s difficult for me to say what his power is like because honestly, I was not fazed. Not at all.”

McGregor must be a really weak puncher for Van Heerden to be downgrading him the way he is. During the same interview, Van Heerden was gushing about Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s punching power, saying he’s never been hit so hard in his entire life. Van Heerden said Canelo’s power is “scary,” which is kind of interesting, because it’s clear that he’s not a puncher at the middleweight level. Canelo is more of a slapper. But you have to look at the thinly built Van Heerden and realize what he is. He’s a welterweight, and not a powerful guy.

Van Heerden was stopped by Errol Spence Jr. in 2015 in 8 rounds. Van Heerden didn’t remark how McGregor’s power compares to that of Spence. It’s too bad he didn’t. If McGregor can punch as hard as Spence, then he will have a chance of knocking out Floyd. If not, then it’s likely going to be a long, boring fight on August 26, filled with Mayweather landing pot shots and jabs for 12 rounds, while the crowd either laps up that style of fighting or boos the lack of two-way action.

“His best punch is that counter left hand, he’s very good at it,” said Van Heerden about McGregor. “I’m going to give that to him, you know. Take nothing away from him, his counter left hand is pretty good and I can see why with [4oz gloves] he’s dropping these guys in MMA but then again, we’ve seen over and over and over it doesn’t take much for these MMA fighters, once they get tagged on the jaw, to go down.”

The reason McGregor scores so many knockouts in the UFC is the combination of the light 4oz gloves, which supply almost no padding for the fighter’s fists, and the fact that he’s so good at landing shots that his opponents don’t see coming. McGregor is a southpaw, and that’s something the UFC fighters don’t see that often. It gives McGregor a big advantage. When he lands his counter shots, it catches his opponents off guard, making his power seem more formidable. I don’t think McGregor is any more powerful than his opponents in the UFC. It’s his ability to land counters and his southpaw stance that wins his fights. The 4oz gloves obviously make McGregor’s power shots seem even better. Guys from boxing would have a difficult time taking the head shots from McGregor with him wearing 4oz gloves. Those light gloves help a lot. McGregor will have to try and do the same thing to Mayweather with 8oz gloves, and I doubt that he’ll be able to do it, especially with Van Heerden saying he’s not a big puncher.

“In a boxer’s world we are so trained everyday, everyday when we spar we get tagged on the jaw,” said Van Heerden. ”So we’re used to that where I feel they are so focused on the ground work, on the kicking, on the grappling, on the wrestling, a little bit on the boxing — they don’t perfect one thing. It’s hard to perfect one thing and when they do get hit hard on the jaw it’s like a surprise to them, it’s like ‘whoa!’ and they go down so easy. It’s funny,” said Van Heerden.

I don’t think Van Heerden knows what he’s talking about. He’s never fought with 4oz gloves on, so he doesn’t have any idea what it’s like to be hit with those kinds of shots in the UFC. I think he would have the same problems that any fighter has taking shots with those types of gloves. Van Heerden is just speculating in trying to understand a sport that he doesn’t compete in. The reason why UFC fighters go down when hit in that sport is because the gloves are puncher’s gloves. It’s too bad McGregor won’t be using the 4oz gloves in the Mayweather fight, considering he would have a real chance of winning if he landed his left hand counter.

“I feel the massive difference between MMA fighters when it comes to boxing, and boxers when it comes to boxing, is that we are trained to fight in combinations,” said Van Heerden. ”We are trained to throw four, five, six, seven punches in a combination where MMA fighters are not trained to throw combinations. You go look at their fights they throw one-twos, they walk down like this, or it’s a one-two, or a one. They don’t fight in combinations. And that’s what separates them from boxers in the sense of skill is. Let’s say Conor McGregor vs. Floyd. Floyd knows how to throw six, seven, eight punches in a combination, and land them, where Conor maybe knows how to throw one or two. That’s it.”

This is a good point that Van Heerden brings up about the fact that UFC fighters like McGregor mainly throw 1 to 2 punches at a time rather than sustained combinations. It’s too risky to throw 4 to 7 punches in a row in the UFC, because it puts fighters in a position where they’ll get countered with a big shot or grabbed by their opponents. Since many of the fighters in the UFC are from wrestling backgrounds, the worst thing a good stand up fighter like McGregor can do is to throw sustained combinations and potentially get grabbed and taken down. McGregor is a decent grappler, but he’s definitely not at the same level as many of the guys in the UFC in that area of expertise. McGregor is more like Anderson Silva, a fighter that excelled at his striking ability in the UFC. Silva had a long run as a champion in the UFC simply because he was so good at knocking out his opponents with his fistic ability. The shorter wrestler type guys would try and get to Silva to take him down to the mat, and they would get caught by his hard power shots. Once Silva would catch them with something, they would often be stunned. He would then finish them off.

Mayweather is no different than most UFC fighters when it comes to throwing combinations. I’m not sure if Van Heerden has ever watched many of Mayweather’s fights in the last 10 years of his career, but if he had, he’ll have noted that Mayweather mostly throws single pot shots in his fights. It’s all one a time type punching. Mayweather RARELY throws 1-2 combinations, and almost never throws 3 to 4 punches in a row. Even when Mayweather was younger, he was throwing largely 1 or 2 punches at a time. They only times where Mayweather would throw sustained combinations is when his opponent was badly hurt and ready to go down. What may ultimately prevent Mayweather from knocking out McGregor next Saturday night is his play it safe single combinations that he throws. He’s never going to knockout McGregor by throwing one punch at a time. That’s not going to happen, because Mayweather is basically just a super featherweight when it comes to punching power. He doesn’t have the natural frame of a welterweight. If you compare Mayweather’s power to the true welterweights like Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman, it’s like night and day. Those guys can really punch at the 147 lb. level. Mayweather is just a guy with fast hands that moved up from super featherweight many years ago in search of bigger paydays.

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