UFC 229: Conor vs Khabib Fight Preview
It’s finally happening … Conor McGregor is getting back in the ring and against his bus riding rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov, no less. McGregor was facing up to 7 years in jail, but that was never really the worry. The questions were whether or not his visa would get revoked. The NY courts were lenient with McGregor, allowing him to skate by with some fines and community service. And now us fans are gifted with the grudge match of a lifetime.
Breaking it Down
This will be the first UFC appearance ever where Conor McGregor is listed as the underdog. Khabib is listed as a -170 favorite with McGregor coming in as the plus-money dog at +140. On an aside, if you want to learn more about betting UFC events, click here to see this easy guide on how to bet on sports.
I understand why Conor is the underdog. Khabib is 26-0, and McGregor hasn’t been in the octagon in a while (693 days to be exact). Plus, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s number one strength is McGregor’s greatest weakness. Khabib’s grappling style is like a blanket he uses to smother his opponents.
On the other hand, Khabib tends to start very slow. And we all know that Conor loves to start fast and hard. Just like Khabib can smother opponents with his ground skills, McGregor can smother with his unparalleled striking ability. Eddie Alvarez put it perfectly.
“If Khabib doesn’t correct the mistake of sitting back with his chin back, going to the side, Conor is going to put his lights out with that left hand pretty bad, pretty quickly. He needs to learn how to relax in the pocket and know that he’s safe. Until he does that, he’s always in danger of getting beat by a guy with knockout power like Conor McGregor.”
Alvarez also said that he doesn’t think that Conor has the spirit once on the ground to deal with takedown after takedown, and being controlled and manhandled for the majority of the fight. And I agree with that. McGregor’s will to fight will evaporate if he spends the entire time on the mat. And fighting a guy like Khibib, you can’t just whip up a ground-defense game plane in a month and a half. Guys at this level, GSP, etc. You need a lot of time to prepare for their elite grappling game. So, with that said, I almost think it would be better for McGregor to solely focus on takedown defense. He absolutely has to keep the fight on his feet. If he manages to keep from getting ragdolled around on the ground and can stay standing, he has a great chance of knocking out Khabib. In fact, it’s more than likely.
Remember, Chad Mendes only had about two weeks to train for McGregor, and he immediately came out and put him [Conor] on his back. And Mendes is easily 10 pounds smaller than Nurmagomedov, plus Khabib is going to have a full camp to prepare for Conor, more or less.
The game plans are painfully obvious; Khabib must take Conor down. For McGregor, he must keep the fight standing. But who is going to be able to accomplish that? I would say that Conor has great footwork and if he keeps on the move, we could see the vast holes in Khabib’s standup ability, and he might be able to avoid being taken down. But Khabib’s camp is going to understand this, and they will focus on how to box Conor in.
I am not going to make a prediction on this fight because to me; it is a true pick’em. Khabib could slip in and take Conor down at any point in the fight, and it will be pretty much over. Or he could get caught by a giant left hand on the way in and get put to sleep. Either way, this is going to be a blast!