Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov
Put Your Money on Mac
Tale Of The Tape
Weight 155 lbs
6 Performance Of The Night
2 Fight Of The Night
1 KO Of The Night
18 by KO
1 by Submission
2 by Decision
3 by Submission
Weight 155 lbs
8 by KO
8 by Submission
10 by Decision
Conor vs Khabib
The hype surrounding the main event of UFC 229 between Conor and Khabib is strikingly similar to the narrative we were used to seeing with GSP and every single opponent who would challenge him for the 170 pound title; the latest challenger to the crown represents the greatest threat to the champ, and will probably beat him. We all know how things went for GSP’s opponents. Every single one always fell short. Georges was incredible at ignoring the media and sticking to the game plan, which included an uncanny ability to use his opponent’s best weapons against them. Things aren’t that different when we parallel this storyline with Conor McGregor’s.
Conor is like GSP in that he is a relentless workhorse inside the gym who can stick to a game plan. He differs from GSP in one very apparent aspect. Conor has 100% pure, natural knockout power. This characteristic sets him apart from many of the UFC’s best champions, yet the media continues to back Khabib, so much so, that the current line against Conor places him as a +150 underdog. If I were a betting man, I’d sprinkle a little disposable income all over this fight in favour of Mystic Mac. And here’s why.
Striking vs Wrestling
Every fight begins standing up. Duh! This is worth looking at closely. We can assume that Khabib will be looking for a takedown right off the hop. He will want to take Conor into deep water early, and drain power from his most powerful weapons, mainly, his arms.
Everyone knows this, including Conor and his team. We also know that Khabib absorbs significant damage from striking when he looks for takedowns. In his fight against Michael Johnson, who is a southpaw like Conor, Khabib got rattled within the first 90 seconds. Khabib kept his lead hand dangerously low, and took damage from lead hooks and straight left punches. Johnson didn’t walk away with the win, but provided a very valuable lesson in how to attack Khabib: pressure him with strikes early, and he is beatable.
Plain and simple, Khabib lacks the striking prowess of Conor. He is not accurate, and his defense is sloppy. His AKA style of striking has more to do with cardio and conditioning than it does with pinpoint accuracy. Remember, last August Conor went toe-to-toe with the greatest boxer in history, and won two rounds. We’ve never met a striker like Conor in the history of the UFC, except maybe Anderson Silva.
When it comes to grappling, Khabib clearly has the edge, but this won’t become a threat until later in the fight when Conor’s power will naturally fade. However, Conor has only gone to decision twice in his career, and won both times against Holloway and Diaz.
His fights against Chad Mendes and Diaz part II are a testament to the heart and grappling ability of McGregor. He weathered the storm against Mendes while attacking from the bottom, and he fought Diaz at 170 pounds, less than 6 months after being embarrassed by him inside the Octagon. The Diaz fight is a testament to Conor’s heart and work ethic. He fought a natural fighter, went the distance, and beat him.
Who Have You Fought?
If you can find any tangible information on Khabib’s first 16 opponents, I will buy you lunch. A simple browse on Wikipedia will demonstrate that Khabib fought ‘nobodys’ until he entered the UFC. In my opinion, Khabib is actually 10-0, and that’s a stretch. His first UFC fight was against Kamal Shalorus. I heard he’s making a real comeback these days. Then Khabib went on to beat Gleison Tibau, Thiago Tavares, and Abel Trujillo, all of whom aren’t top 10 fighters. Khabib missed weight against Trujillo.
The only notable fights on Khabib’s resume are against Michael Johnson, Rafael dos Anjos, Pat Healy, Barbosa, Johnson, and Iaquinta. All of these fights went the distance, except for the kimura submission against Johnson in the third round. So basically, one could argue that Khabib is actually 6-0.
Khabib’s resume is poor in contrast to Conor’s. Even though the media likes to talk endlessly about his 26-0 record, is is meaningless when you take a closer look. In all honesty, Khabib hasn’t fought the best athletes in the lightweight division.
Conor on the other hand has fought anyone and everyone. Not only has Conor fought the best fighters in 3 weight divisions and two sports, he’s knocked them out cold.
Conor knocked out Brimage, Brandao, Poirier, Siver, Mendes, Aldo (ooooof!), and Eddie Alvarez, who is damn near impossible to knock out. He beat Diaz at 170 and stepped in the ring against Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. Conor has a unique ability to find openings and exploit them with various strikes from unorthodox angles. His striking is frightening while wearing 4 ounce gloves.
When you compare resumes side-by-side it becomes glaringly obvious that Conor is most certainly not the underdog. He has the striking advantage, mental toughness, heart and awareness of range to knock Khabib out with a lead right hook in under three rounds.
For more information about UFC 229 and how to watch this fight make sure to check out The UFC Official Website
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Written by: Ryan McKinnon, Lanna MMA Team Member and host of The Bloody Ballet podcast, a weekly Muay Thai show that can be found at The Bloody Ballet