Can Conor McGregor defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov in the Octogan? That is a tough question. McGregor has already made mince meat of Nurmagomedov at the press conferences.
One thing to consider is that this is the first time ever that Conor McGregor has been listed as an underdog at top betting sites on the rating guide. At +130, “The Notorious” isn’t a huge dog. In fact, in the world of MMA and boxing, those odds are quite short.
McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov is a titan clash of styles. The match on Oct. 6 is easily the biggest fight of the year, and some are even calling it the biggest UFC fight ever. Pay-per-view records are sure to be broken, and the worldwide betting markets are sure to see a ton of action.
People in the Nurmagomedov camp believe that he will just roll through McGregor’s defense and have zero difficulties taking him to the mat, manhandling and ragdolling the Irishman at will. People in the McGregor camp believe that at some point, Nurmagomedov is going to hang his chin and walk into one of McGregor’s trademark left hands and get dropped like a sack of potatoes.
Both of these sides are correct. If Nurmagomedov can get keep the fight down on the ground, he will smother McGregor and wear him down. Eventually, Nurmagomedov will find an opportunity to submit McGregor or put him into an indefensible position where he can ground and pound the fight to a stop.
If McGregor can keep the fight standing for enough time, his superior striking skills and undeniable punching power will likely shine through and end up catching Nurmagomedov at some point solid enough to where if McGregor doesn’t immediately knock Russian out, he will hurt him enough to be able to take advantage and finish the fight.
Nurmagomedov is walking around much lighter than normal. It’s clear that he wants to be ready to make weight easily as he has had issues reaching target weights in the past. The question that arises from this is will he be sacrificing some strength and power to ride a much lighter weight for such a long period?
On the other side of the coin, McGregor looks as powerful as ever. But the unknowns for McGregor relate to the amount of time he has spent outside of the Octagon. It’s been a couple of years since he’s fought in the UFC and Nurmagomedov isn’t an opponent that you can step in against with any rust. The other question is a positive one. One has to think that McGregor has had his eye on Nurmagomedov for quite a while and has had plenty of time to work hard on improving his grappling skills and takedown defense.
For McGregor, takedown defense and footwork will be the key elements to victory. If he can keep circling and slide and side-step out of the way when Nurmagomedov shoots in for takedowns, he’ll be able to keep his footing and stay standing. If the fight does go to the ground, McGregor will have to stay calm and be patient, keeping in mind that the fight will go back to standing upon each reset if he can keep the ground stints as slow and actionless as possible.
It’s a fight for the ages with two conflicting styles that are almost perfect for taking out the other. Does McGregor have a chance? Yes, he does. This fight should be a pick ‘em as either one of these skilled athletes has equal opportunity to win. All it will take for Nurmagomedov is one second where his right hand comes down (which he often does), and it could be lights out. For McGregor, a simple misstep or error in timing and he could get slammed to the mat and beaten.
Who will win? We’ll just have to wait and see.