In a change of pace from my usual lane of blogging I’m previewing the biggest fight in the UFC since…..well the last time Conor McGregor stepped into the Octagon.
UFC 229 is banking on the fact that the main event will attract casual fans to watch the buy the PPV at home or watch it at a local bar, then they’ll rely on the action delivering on the under-card to get their repeat business (it should deliver).
What can you expect here? An armchair breakdown from a guy who’s never been in a fight but loves watching them.
What’s at stake?
- The Lightweight (155 lbs) Championship.
- Khabib’s undefeated record
- Bragging rights
The Lightweight Championship is something Conor never officially lost (he was stripped of the title on April 7th of this year) so while McGregor is the challenger in the fight, most see this as Khabib challenging McGregor for lightweight supremacy.
Khabib is also an impressive 26-0 heading into Saturday’s fight. Now if you’re like most casuals this will be a great selling point to entice you into watching this fight Saturday. If you’re like me and know a little bit about MMA you’ll know this record is kind of smoke and mirrors. Now don’t get me wrong Khabib is an absolute beast, but with only 11 of his 26 opponents having a Wikipedia page not all of his wins should be held in high regards. Now this isn’t discrediting Khabib as a champion. The guy has demolished everyone the UFC has put in front of him since 2012.
Bragging rights are always at stake in any fight, but in a fight where each fighter appears to have legitimate bad blood the stakes couldn’t be higher. I think it’s safe to say Khabib would murder Conor in the cage Saturday if he was granted immunity from any legal troubles.
That look Khabib has in his eyes when speaking to the camera is that of a stone cold killer. I was scared to even make eye contact with him through my computer thousands of miles away. Conor may be poking the wrong bear on this one and getting in over his head.
This press conference didn’t do it for me. Sure Conor got his usual quips in and definitely pissed off Khabib, but without a roaring crowd Mystic Mac seemed to underperform here.
Conor undoubtedly has the advantage in the striking department. 21 wins, 18 (T)KO’s that should speak for itself. Are you not sold? Here’s some evidence.
Conor has some matrix like reflexes couple that with some phenomenal counter punching and you have one of the most dangerous punchers in the UFC. While Conor’s kicks are underutilized they shouldn’t be underestimated. I wouldn’t expect McGregor to throw any serious kicks unless he wants to give Khabib a hand (or a leg in this case) in getting him to the ground. Tying into the trash talk aspect of this fight, Conor loves the mental warfare so he can throw his opponent’s game plan out the window. Perfect example is the Jose Aldo fight. He stuffed Aldo into a locker throughout their press tour and it wouldn’t have been all that shocking if on the last stop Aldo would’ve swung on McGregor. What was the payoff to Conor’s trash talk?
Tricking the normally content Aldo into charging in head first looking to take his head clean off and countering with a stiff left hand KO’ing the former featherweight champ.
Conor has never been known for his takedowns. The only fight that comes to mind is his fight from August 2013 against current Featherweight champ Max Holloway. Khabib obviously has the advantage here. Instead of boring you with stats here’s some of Khabib’s best work on the ground.
Conor will tell you to your face that he’s going to knock you out and in his words you’ll do “fookin nuthin” about it. That type of confidence is what got him to the top of the UFC. Proving he’s not delusional about his cockiness McGregor after his loss to Nate Diaz admitted he wasn’t the better man that night and went back to the drawing board before their rematch 6 months later. So think about that before you write off his antics as brash, obnoxious. Conor’s out here playing chess while most of his detractors are playing checkers.
Khabib on the other hand let’s his work speak for itself. A cold, calculated man who will throw you into the ground bash your face in and then shake your hand afterwards. Really about as much of an opposite as you can be from Conor McGregor.
I’ll call it a push here because I think both are great in their own right and to say which one has the edge here is like splitting hairs.
I think McGregor has a tough round 1 as Khabib pushes the pace and gets a few takedowns. After a feeling out process expect McGregor to find his rhythm and KO Khabib halfway through the 2nd round.