Khabib Nurmagamedov’s Team Are Under No Illusions About The Enormous Challenge That They Are Facing… Conor McGregor is a Step-Up From The Fighters That They Have Already Faced…
Probably the most exciting aspect of Conor McGregor’s upcoming fight against Khabib Nurmagamedov is how uncertain the outcome is. Of course, the most partisan fans are adamant that their fight will win, but really it is almost impossible to say who will win.
What does seem highly likely though is that it will end one of two ways: McGregor will either knock Khabib out early in round 1 or 2, as the Russian charges in for the takedown. The other possibility is that ‘The Eagle’ takes McGregor down, bludgeons him to a decision win, or snatches a TKO/submission after a few rounds of battering him on the ground.
While the fighters have been spending a bit of time trash-talking, as you would expect, Khabib’s team are under no illusions that McGregor is a very different challenge to the fighters they’ve already faced. He is not Al Iaquinta. This is a definite step-up, and Coach Javier Mendez says that Khabib must not stand and strike with the Irishman.
The key thing here is not to try to fix what isn’t broken. Khabib is one of the best takedown specialists and wrestlers in the entire UFC. According to American Kickboxing Academy teammate Daniel Cormier, he regularly rolls and wins against heavyweights and light-heavyweights.
Javier Mendez insists that they will not try to do anything different. It would be very stupid to try and do what McGregor least expects because that would probably lead to an early night for the Russian. He told the Eurobash podcast:
“To me, McGregor is the best standup guy in the whole UFC, in my opinion. There’s no amount of time that we have that’s going to help us to try and get him to stand up, there’s no way possible. So, I’m not gonna say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re gonna get him ready’… come on…wake up…it ain’t gonna work. I want nothing to do with Conor’s stand-up…he’s too good.”
It’s very clear that Mendez respects McGregor’s capabilities – and you can bet John Kavanagh is saying the same thing to the Irishman about Khabib. Nurmagamedov has fought excellent strikers in the past. Michael Johnson did famously rock the Russian, but it literally seems like the only punch he’s taken in his entire career.
He made Edson Barboza’s life absolutely miserable as well, taking him down at ease and putting the beating of his life on him (at least until Kevin Lee came along). Khabib has a track record and it’s a very good one.
However, in McGregor’s favor, he is a very different type of fighter to Barboza and Johnson. The latter he’s simply much better than. Meanwhile, Barboza tends to use very flashy techniques leaving him off-balance and susceptible to takedowns. He did almost connect with a couple of kicks, as Khabib has very average head movement when standing.
Furthermore, McGregor’s left hand and ability to shift between southpaw and orthodox are very effective. His movement is excellent. Expect his strategy to be similar to the Chad Mendes fight. He’ll soften the body and legs with front kicks and look for a home for a big left hand.
This is already very exciting. Who have you got?