"Who do you train with? You got that little, goofy motherf-cker with you. I'm training for real. Real training partners. Top ten fighters, top ten boxers, top ten Jiu-Jitsu guys, top ten kickboxers... You're playing touch butt with that dork in the park with the pony tail." - Nate Diaz
The air was filled with a billion, microscopic lighting bolts. Conor McGregor, tanned and periwinkle-suited, glowed behind the dais at the UFC 196 press conference. He was fresh off of "beheading a Brazilian" just three months earlier. McGregor glowed the kind of glow that one only resonates after knocking out the consensus, pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Nate Diaz, the late replacement for UFC Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, couldn't have cared less. They both sat just one podium apart, McGregor in full superstar mode while Diaz played on his phone in a plain, black t-shirt.
It was here where the words echoed out forever. A storm of insults, predictions and two fighters yelling about how much they didn't give a f-ck engulfed the arena but they didn't mean as much as one phrase. Diaz was not impressed. He didn't care if McGregor punked an entire roster of UFC fighters. He didn't care if McGregor was all "pumped up" after defeating a bunch of "midgets". Diaz didn't care because he saw McGregor doing "touch butt" with "that dork".
That dork was not just any dork. That dork was Capoeirista, Israeli martial artist, personal trainer, ripped dude, movement coach—Ido Portal.
The Great Attractor
"I would love to meet him and do some work with him. He's taking this generalist movement perspective inside fighting and there's so much you can do with it." - Ido Portal
The pony-tailed Portal lounged in a funky chair while a chrome bulldog looked on. This is where it started. On London Real, as host Brian Rose waxed poetically about McGregor, Portal revealed he has been watching and knew McGregor keep an eye on him as well. Leaning in closer as his eyes light up, Portal tries to explain McGregor's unorthodox motions. "Most fighters are standing there with their English, or their Russian, or their Portuguese—their language—and they're waiting for you to ask them this question," Portal said. "But all of the sudden you come up with some [indistinguishable mumbling] and there is no answer for that." In hindsight, this bizarre comparison explains why a fighter with a sniper left may sprint at the start of a round, spamming spin kicks, just to get their opponent off guard and up against the fence to land those punches.
We Have First Contact
"From the moment I open my eyes, I'm trying to free my body. I'm trying to get looser, more flexible, to gain control. Movement is medicine to me." - Conor McGregor
Just as McGregor has seemingly spoken things into existence, Portal then appeared in the rolling green hills of Ireland. Team Straight Blast Gym opened their doors and minds to the movement guru to express their human bodies. The Irishman was like water, my friends. McGregor flowed and crawled right along with Portal like their chakras were separated at birth. Gunnar Nelson, the stoic Icelander, silently played along during the entire first training session. The two exchanged ideas and patterns, while the internet had endless questions and unlimited memes. Google lit up with everyone trying to figure out who exactly who was this "Portal" guy. Little did they all know, that he would be married to McGregor's career after the first cartwheel.
Proving the Equation
"When you look at José Aldo, it's a traditional style. You can make easier reads on a traditional style than you can on somebody that is moving in different directions, switching on southpaw to conventional, throwing spin kicks." - Dominick Cruz
Everyone talked about it. Even McGregor's diehard fans knew it could happen. If McGregor wasn't able to beat José Aldo, the world would rip into him and his movement coach Portal. Ever since their first introduction, they could be seen on the beach, in the Mac Mansion and—of course—in the park. McGregor was freeing his body up from the coils of hindrance, creating even more unique approaches to fighting in the process and he was even able to finally leap onto a balancing beam. The reputation of the touch bu-I mean, movement movement relied on McGregor's performance at UFC 194. Luckily, McGregor land the shot heard 'round the world. Not only that, but it was the hopping and darting movement counter that McGregor had practiced in the first Portal training sessions. ...It was the same movement he acted out moments before the fight.
Newton's First Law of Motion
"A body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force." - Isaac Newton
With no friction to slow McGregor and Portal's kinetic energy, the suits got tighter and the gold got heavier. The glory and checks aren't the only things that gained weight, so did McGregor's confidence and body itself. The next thing on the plate was a fight with the absolutely frightening dos Anjos as McGregor pursued his goal of holding two UFC titles simultaneously. A broken foot ruined the chances of the history-making bout, but in its place came Diaz. The fight was booked at Welterweight and let McGregor eat steaks, cheesecake and meals with the frequency of a Hobbit. For training, McGregor punched out candles, worked the Olympic rings and juggled balls. Whether it was the weight, Diaz's advanced combat level, or the failing of bo staff capoeira, Diaz ended up finally being the "outside force" to stop McGregor's "body in motion".
A New Movement
"I'm motivated by movement and money, and the movement of money," - Conor McGregor
Captain Ahad had Moby Dick, now McGregor has Diaz.. He spared no expense for the rematch that fast approaches this weekend. It was estimated that McGregor spent upwards of $300,000 for just this one camp. Those that were flew out to SBG include an Irish cycling champion, Marcelo Garcia black belt Dillon Danis and six-time All-Ireland boxing champion Conor Wallace. However, the roster would never be complete without Portal. Jokes aside, Portal can himself do incredible feats and seems to inspire McGregor. But after all the animal mimicry, pool noodle practice and tumbling, will it be enough? The question isn't as simple as that. McGregor could have run 300 miles a day and still tire in the Octagon. It is different in there, but so is McGregor and Portal's methods. Either way, be it in victory or defeat, McGregor's body will be free, loose and elusive.
"So I still didn't get it, Nate Diaz, first it's you who were doing some movement training already back in the day but then it's a shitty approach to take? Which one is it?! Well, Mr. Diaz is under a lot of pressure. I understand mistakes can happen. Seriously, next time I'll jump on stage with my pool noodle and smack some heads around." - Ido Portal
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