This is the moment UFC fans around the world have been waiting over two years for. The notorious Conor McGregor will finally fight lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas for the 155lb belt.
While the promotion feels lackluster for this event, it’s because these names need no introduction and this could easily be the biggest UFC fight ever.
McGregor undoubtedly is one of the biggest stars in the UFC. His trash talk has been compared to that of Muhammad Ali’s, and he has the skills to back it up.
His two-year hiatus from the cage has had fans kicking and screaming to get him back.
The first back-to-back division champion in the sport’s history relinquished his belts in order to box Floyd Mayweather a little over a year ago, and it truly sucked the life out of the fight game.
Now the undefeated mauler Nurmagomedov holds ones of those belts and this style matchup has fans and fighters literally split 50-50 on who will win. McGregor is a knockout artist and has phenomenal boxing skills that were on display against Mayweather.
There is footage of Nurmagomedov wrestling bears as a child and his well-versed father trained him in sambo and judo as well. This is the classic striker versus grappler matchup, which has gotten fans riled up since the early UFC days.
The only route for victory for McGregor is to keep this fight standing as he clearly is the better striker.
He has the advantage at first because every fight starts standing up. He has very long arms that move in awkward angles and give everyone he faces a world of pain; it will be no different for Nurmagomedov.
McGregor is so dangerous early on as seen with the 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo that there is no way Nurmagomedov will want to play his game. Fighters known for “great chins” cannot take his left hand.
The only problem is that McGregor is a sniper, not a machine-gun. And his cardio has been known to drain as a result. His fights against Mayweather or Nate Diaz are clear examples of this. McGregor can only win if he is able to really hurt Nurmagomedov in the first two rounds.
The only way that happens is if McGregor is able to stop some of Nurmagomedov’s takedowns. McGregor’s takedown defense will decide this match. McGregor might be able to defend a takedown or two, but he cannot outwrestle Nurmagomedov.
In a press conference at The Radio City Music Hall, Nurmagomedov said, “I am the Floyd Mayweather in MMA.” He is right, considering his 26-0 record. The question is can McGregor hold Nurmagomedov off long enough to get his hands on him?
Nurmagomedov cannot box with McGregor, and that makes it very unlikely that he will even entertain the thought early on. He knows that McGregor has cardio problems and has made it clear in many interviews that his plan is to wear him down by taking him down. Both of McGregor’s losses came in the deep rounds of those fights.
He won’t be able to break with Nurmagomedov to catch his breath because he will just get tossed on his back by the undefeated wrestler.
Despite this being one of the rare 50-50 fights in the UFC, it will most likely be a one-sided affair.
If McGregor is able to catch Nurmagomedov with that left hand, it will almost certainly lead to the knockout of the current champ.
If Nurmagomedov is able to take McGregor down before he catches those hands, then it’s going to be a long night of McGregor getting taken down over and over until he quits.
Both men are warriors mentally and more than confident, so it appears that psychological warfare will be a nonfactor in this matchup. That makes it even more exciting, as it truly will be a test of will and skill.
If McGregor doesn’t win by the second round, then it’s going to turn into the Nurmagomedov show. McGregor’s cardio cannot be trusted.
There are five rounds, so Nurmagomedov has more time to win and he has been way more active in fighting than McGregor.
This gives Nurmagomedov an advantage, but regardless of who wins, this is easily the fight of the year, if not all time.