John Kavanagh (martial artist)

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John Kavanagh
Born (1977-01-18) January 18, 1977 (age 42)
Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland
Other namesCoach Kavanagh
ResidenceDublin, Ireland
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)
TeamSBG Ireland
Rank     3rd degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Matt Thornton
     2nd degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate[1]
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout0
By submission3
By decision0
By knockout1
By submission1
By decision1
OccupationMartial arts coach

John Raymond Kavanagh (born January 18, 1977) is an Irish martial arts coach, Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and former professional mixed martial artist. His students include fighters such as Conor McGregor, Makwan Amirkhani, and Gunnar Nelson.


He is the founder and head coach of Irish MMA gym Straight Blast Gym Ireland and the current president of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association.[2] Kavanagh was inspired to take up mixed martial arts after watching footage of the UFC tournament in 1993.[3] A pioneer of MMA in Ireland, he competed in some of the earliest local circuit MMA events in Ireland and the UK and is the first Irish man to receive a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.[3] Kavanagh was welcomed into the Straight Blast Gym International association of gyms in 2001 by SBGi founder Matt Thornton.[3][4]

Today, Kavanagh is known as one of the best MMA coaches in the world,[5] being nominated for the World MMA Awards "Coach of the Year" in 2016,[6] and winning it in 2017.[7]

Kavanagh is also the promoter of a mixed martial arts organization Euro Fight Night which held their inaugural event in October 2019.[8]

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lineage[edit]

Mitsuyo Maeda » Carlos Gracie Sr. » Carlos Gracie Jr. » Rigan Machado » Chris Haueter » Matt Thornton » John Kavanagh

Awards and achievements[edit]

World MMA Awards - Coach of the Year 2017

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
6 matches 3 wins 3 losses
By knockout 0 1
By submission 3 1
By decision 0 1
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 3-3 Robbie Oliver Submission (armbar) UZI 2: Combat Evolution March 8, 2003 1 2:26 Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom
Loss 2-3 Danny Batten Submission (keylock) UZI 1: Cage Combat Evolution November 30, 2002 2 N/A Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom
Loss 2-2 Leigh Remedios Decision (unanimous) UC 1: Ultimate Combat 1 March 10, 2002 3 5:00 Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Win 2-1 Tamel Hasar Submission (rear naked choke) Cage Wars 1 February 23, 2002 1 N/A Portsmouth, England, United Kingdom
Loss 1-1 Bobby Karagiannidis KO (punches) Pride and Honor: Pride and Honor November 24, 2001 1 N/A South Africa
Win 1-0 Leighton Hill Submission (triangle choke) Grapple & Strike 1 May 29, 2000 1 0:55 Worcester, England, United Kingdom

Further reading[edit]

  • Kavanagh, John (2016). Win or Learn: MMA, Conor McGregor and Me: A Trainer's Journey. Penguin Random House UK
  • Slack, Jack (2017). Notorious: The Life and Fights of Conor Mcgregor. John Blake Publishing Ltd


  1. ^ Kavanagh, John (2016). Win or Learn. Penguin. p. 6. ISBN 9780241977675.
  2. ^ "Outside the Octagon - John Kavanagh: Irish MMA's Game Changer | UFC &reg - News". Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  3. ^ a b c Slack, Ch 1. Straight Blast Gym
  4. ^ Mussa, Matthew (6 July 2017). "John Kavanagh, McGregor's Coach: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  5. ^ Blair, Alex (16 October 2016). "John Kavanagh reveals the day he bare-knuckle fought Conor McGregor". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  6. ^ "World MMA Awards winners: Holly Holm cleans up in multiple categories". MMAJunkie. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  7. ^ Farrell, Sinéad (3 March 2017). "Conor McGregor and John Kavanagh scoop MMA awards". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  8. ^ Peter Carroll (November 11, 2019). "John Kavanagh: I'll happily step down as IMMAA president when MMA is recognized in Ireland".