There’s no doubt a Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor title fight would be the biggest MMA fight of 2018 – and perhaps of all-time.
Now that UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov has the belt many had predicted he would win since he was signed by the UFC and debuted in 2012, ‘The Eagle’ is now the marked man in the talented 155-pound fray after McGregor spent a year-and-a-half as champion without seriously entertaining defending the belt.
Khabib has promised to do the opposite of that, but with his holy month of Ramadan coming up, he’s still aiming for a November or December return. When he does step back into the octagon, there’s no bigger or better fight for him than to face “The Notorious” provided the infamous Irish former champ is willing to agree to it, and that fact was only amplified into the stratosphere after McGregor’s shocking Brooklyn bus attack for which he’ll next appear in court on June 14.
So with Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor the hottest prospective match-up in the UFC right now, both sides have begun to weigh-in on the dream bout. That includes McGregor’s longtime striking coach Owen Roddy, who recently told The BBC MMA Show (via Bloody Elbow) that they weren’t impressed with Nurmagomedov’s recent track record of mostly decision wins:
“At the end of the day, Khabib hasn’t finished many fights lately. Now he always says he does that on purpose, but I don’t think so. If you’re going to go in and finish somebody, you go in and finish somebody. He says, ‘I like punish people for five rounds’, I always say, ‘If you’re going to give Conor McGregor five attempts to land a shot on you..’.
“So even if he went in and didn’t land the first round, or the second, or the third, or the fourth, he still has five attempts to land one shot. I’ve seen Conor McGregor go in and land within the first thirty seconds of the first round.”
While it’s true Khabib has finished two of his last four bouts, he has also won his last two fights by decision and five of his last seven. In Roddy’s mind, that’s made him a less-than-deserving (or dangerous) champion, but the same thing was often said about dominant former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre during his decision-filled, late-career run.
From that point of view, it may appear he isn’t the most prolific finisher at 155 pounds, and he’s never been known for his knockout power or striking overall, really. What he is known best for is grinding his opponents into the mat using his peerless, dominant wrestling prowess, something that’s obviously helped him amass an unheard-of 25-0 record in arguably the toughest division in all of MMA.
He may not make it five full rounds with McGregor if he chooses to strike with him – that much is true – but can McGregor last five full rounds defending takedowns and getting back up from the inevitable attempts that are successful after gassing in fights where his grappling was put to the test?
As Dana White says, we’ll see what happens.