Khabib vs. McGregor: UFC 229 Picks From Inside the Industry

Thursday, October 4, 2018 7:50 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018 7:50 PM UTC

Nobody draws a crowd like Conor McGregor, and Saturday will be no different when he meets UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Let’s look at some predictions from those who might know best.

<h2 align="center"><a href="" title="Fight Odds">Conor McGregor (21-3, 18 KO) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0, 8 KO)</a></h2><h2 align="center">Saturday, 11:59 p.m. ET; Las Vegas (Pay-Per-View)</h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3536382, "sportsbooksIds":[19,238,999996,1096,1275], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>Saturday night can’t come soon enough because the biggest fight since Conor McGregor dethroned Jose Aldo is right around the corner. The stylistic differences between these two fighters are dramatic but both can turn the lights out with just one punch, while only champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is truly capable of getting his opponents to tap out. That’s because the 30-year-old Dagestani is a decorated combat sambo master with more degrees than Princeton. McGregor is not known for his ground game but his takedown defense is underrated. Nevertheless, there is no doubt his back will be on the mat during this match.</p><p>The big question is, how much MMA rust will McGregor have on him after being absent from the Octagon for nearly two years? However, a counterargument could be made that his tireless training for a 12-round boxing match just over a year ago with Floyd Mayweather may have made his striking game even more fierce and increased his stamina after going 10 rounds with one of the best-ever practitioners of the sweet science before the referee waved it off in the 10th round. Those who watched the fight noticed that McGregor began to wane after the 25-minute mark, the equivalent of five championship rounds in mixed martial arts. Now that McGregor has put his body to the test, his stamina -- sometimes criticized -- should be better than ever to go the distance without weakening against Nurmagomedov.</p><p>The riddle that needs an answer regarding the champion is, will he be able to douse the inferno that is Conor McGregor in the opening round? The Notorious is famous for drilling opponents early and rendering them helpless. It’s his calling card, as is his unorthodox style that sees him switch effortlessly from his natural southpaw stance to conventional in the blink of an eye. Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of McGregor’s game is his seamless incorporation of the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira. McGregor’s herky-jerky attacks coupled with his awkward but lethal spinning kicks are something rarely seen inside the cage. Nurmagomedov has never faced an opponent like McGregor nor has he gone toe-to-toe with someone as stunningly dangerous.</p><p>The <a href="" title="Live UFC Odds">UFC odds board</a> has the champion as a fairly sizable favorite at around -165, which is understandable due to his more recent activity inside the Octagon and his enormous grappling advantage. Although McGregor has the chops to starch Nurmagomedov in the early going, he might not get the chance. The Eagle owns a suffocating ground game and this could very well be five rounds of lay and pray that would result in a victory for the champ but a spectacularly boring fight.</p><p>Although I would love to see McGregor win, my bankroll is too important to bet with my heart, which is why it’s Khabib Nurmagomedov who I will be including as one of my <a href="" title="Free Sports Picks">UFC picks </a>on Saturday night. Let’s read what others around the world are predicting and see if we can glean some useful information from these opinions.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Smooooooth as &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#PRPR12&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— FloCombat (@FloCombat) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;October 4, 2018&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><h2>McGregor Supporters</h2><p><strong>Anthony Pettis (former UFC lightweight champion): </strong>"I think Conor's win over Eddie solidifies him more as champion more than Khabib beating Al. That's just facts. The belt is where it is, they had to do it for the business, they had to move it forward, but if it was true to the game, Conor would be the champion. We've all seen his striking game. We saw him in his last fight against Al and how he performed. If he comes like that against Conor? I mean, that's the wrong guy to do it against. I'm sure he's motivated, I'm sure Conor's motivated. But I'm picking Conor." (MMAFighting)</p><p><strong>Tony McGregor (Conor’s father): </strong>“Excuse me for a moment while I yawn, honestly. This argument bores me. I’ve looked at this every which way. Even up until last night I was looking at Khabib’s fights. He’s slow, he’s sloppy, he’s predictable. There’s nothing in Khabib’s arsenal that Conor fears. Nothing!” (</p><p>“Conor’s camp is possibly the most awesome camp to date. He’s in peak physical condition. His power is unbelievable. Khabib is too slow. He won’t see this coming. Conor’s power, Conor’s speed, Conor’s precision — Khabib has nothing to counter that.” (</p><p><strong>Darren Till (UFC welterweight):</strong> "Before, I actually predicted that Khabib would edge it in five rounds -- now I'm sort of going towards Conor. Listen mate, Khabib's an animal -- he's a sick dude. So is Conor. People write him off because they think Khabib is going to rag-doll him. You're not going to rag-doll him. He's got to be careful to try and rag-doll him because if you come in that distance -- I know how it works -- you've got to be careful." (The Express)</p><p><strong>TJ Dillahsaw (UFC bantamweight champion):</strong> "When I heard it a while ago, my money was on Khabib. But after Khabib's last performance against Al -- and Al is a good guy, good fighter -- I don't think his standup is there. I feel like Conor's got that left hand. He's fast, he's going to be able to use his angles, his crazy kicks, and I've always underestimated the guy. Like Eddie Alvarez, 'Oh, he's gonna run through him.' Boom!" (Below the Belt with Brendan Schaub)</p><p><strong>Kevin Lee (UFC lightweight):</strong> "I think Conor's probably going to sleep him. I'm just looking at the matchup and how the styles is, and especially with someone like Khabib. Khabib's just got the same holes that I've been seeing for years and years and years. And I know Conor's been seeing them, too. So, when you see those holes, and they're not getting at least a little closed, then he's going to get slept." (MMA Junkie Radio)</p><p><strong>Owen Roddy (McGregor’s striking coach): </strong>"I'm expecting a KO. Most definitely. Whether it's in the first or the second, I don't know. But, I would predict that he's going to flatten him. ... I definitely think Conor's going to land quick enough. It's just how he deals with being here and how he copes. I've seen it many times before. Not many people can take the shots. Very, very few. I don't think Khabib can take them either." (Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show)</p><p> </p><h2>Nurmagomedov Supporters</h2><p><strong>Georges St-Pierre (former UFC welterweight, middleweight champion):</strong> "If I have to bet, if I have to put my house on it, I have to pick Khabib. Khabib has never lost before, Conor has a few losses on the ground and that's where Khabib is good and that's where Khabib is the most competent. However, sometimes Khabib is a slow starter and he get punched a lot. He [has trouble] closing distance, but once he has you in the clinch, he's very good. The house goes in Khabib's favor, maybe 60-40. I see more ways to win from Khabib than I do from Conor." (Submission Radio)</p><p><strong>Chael Sonnen (Bellator MMA heavyweight):</strong> "When I look at that fight, I think Khabib kicks his ass. I've always thought Khabib would kick his ass. I always thought Khabib would just go take him down and beat him up. I'm also then confronted with the evidence that Chad Mendes also took him down, but failed to beat him up. I'm also confronted with the evidence that I thought Jose Aldo would go out there, expose Conor and beat him up. I'm confronted with the fact that I thought Eddie Alvarez would go out and beat him up. I'm not sure we know the answer to the question of 'how good is Conor?' But I think he's in over his head." (Chael Sonnen)</p><p><strong>Eddie Alvarez (UFC lightweight):</strong> "I think if Khabib does not correct the mistake of sitting back with his chin back to the side, Conor's gonna put his lights out with that left pretty bad, pretty quickly. But Conor McGregor, looking at his past fights, I don't think he has a strong spirit for fighting on the ground. I don't think Conor has a strong enough spirit to withstand Khabib's ground attack over and over and over. I have to give the edge to Khabib." (EsNews)</p><p><strong>Kelvin Gastelum (UFC middleweight): </strong>"Every time someone talks to me about Khabib, they tell me how strong he is and how he feels like a heavyweight once he gets ahold of you. And then once he's on top of you, how he feels like a heavyweight. So I feel like, once he grabs ahold of Conor, he's never felt that kind of pressure. I think Khabib will get it done. I'm Team Khabib, baby." (TMZ)</p><p><strong>Justin Gaethje (UFC lightweight): </strong>"It's hard to beat confidence and [McGregor's] the most confident guy on planet earth. I don't know how he will stop Khabib from getting him down and getting him to where he eventually wants the fight. I probably see Khabib winning, but his left hand is phenomenal and you cannot take anything away from that thing." (Helen Yee Sports)</p><p><strong>Tyron Woodley (UFC welterweight champion):</strong> "These guys are each other's kryptonite, if Khabib can clobber and pressure Conor McGregor on a full camp. Chad Mendes had half the reach and didn't have a full camp and he was able to do it. But the timing of Conor McGregor, he might be one of the best at it in the game, so I think if Khabib comes forward with his head wide open for some straight lefts, he might get lit up. So, it really depends on who closes the gap the best, and it's going to be early. If Khabib starts pressuring him in the first round and have success, that's the fight! If Conor can catch him and slip him, we might see him getting the TKO. If I had to flip a coin, I would probably say Khabib, just 'cause I think Khabib will deal with the emotion. A lot of guys lose to Conor 'cause they can't deal with getting emotional. He's going to mentally try to brainwash him, get into the head. I think Khabib will be strong enough mentally not to allow that to happen and stick to the game plan." (ESPN)</p><p><strong>Fabricio Werdum (former UFC heavyweight champion): </strong>“I think Khabib [will beat McGregor]. Khabib will kill Conor McGregor, for sure. I saw Khabib. He trains a lot and he’s a very tough guy.”</p><p><strong>Dustin Poirier (TKO’d by McGregor): </strong>“I’m kinda leaning toward Khabib. I just don’t know if he’s going to stop Conor or whatnot, but I’m thinking he’s going to get the victory.” (MMA Fighting)</p>
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