There’s been a heated debate raging in MMA since Conor McGregor’s presser antics last week.
It was a strange scene that saw McGregor unload his usual ultra-personal attacks while promoting his new whiskey. It was also devoid of the usual crowd of boisterous fans supporting him. McGregor ultimately got the job done and generated hype for their upcoming megafight in the main event of next week’s UFC 229.
The event has been billed – rightfully so – as the biggest UFC pay-per-view of all-time based on the stakes involved in McGregor’s long-awaited return. The two fighters bring a bad blood-fueled rivalry from earlier this year. McGregor was infamously arrested for throwing a metal dolly through a bus containing Khabib before April’s UFC 223. He was jailed on assault charges and reached a plea deal this summer.
But there hasn’t been much in terms of media promotion for the fight. McGregor has chosen to stay close to his training camp. It’s probably a good idea considering he has lost two of his last four overall fights. Regardless, he got the ball rolling by dominating the presser talk with the always-quiet Khabib. It’s lead many of his fans to claim McGregor ‘won’ the first presser.
One man predictably disagrees.
Khabib’s Coach Sounds Off
Not surprisingly, Nurmagomedov’s AKA coach Javier Mendez does not think McGregor ‘won’ the presser. Mendez recently told MMA Fighting that they knew McGregor’s game all along. It was plain to see he was going to make things personal by evoking Khabib’s family and gym, among other topics. So McGregor won the trash talk, but Mendez claims Nurmagomedov won everything else:
“We talked to Khabib right before the fight was made. We said, ‘Look, he’s going to play with you, he’s going to hit every button; religion, politics, family.’
“That’s his game, he’s a master at it. Khabib wasn’t rattled at all. Slightly agitated? Yes, but it didn’t work. It did not work. Who won the staredown? Who won the talking? Conor did the talking, so he won that.
“But overall, everything, Khabib won.”
There’s the school of thought that McGregor clearly won and is now in Khabib’s head. The other side insists he was trying way too hard and overcompensating for a lack of confidence. Fans of each fighter will of course side with their man.
UFC 229 will play host to the biggest lightweight title fight in UFC history – that much is certain. Khabib has never let trash talk affect his performance in the cage. Nurmagomedov may be the most focused and dominant fighter in MMA today.
He’s never been in a situation like he is now, either. Did Khabib keep his cool as much as Mendes says?
Or will McGregor’s psychological warfare finally crack the rough exterior of ‘The Eagle?’