Khabib Nurmagomedov’s feared reputation reportedly has many fighters refusing to step inside of the Octagon with him. After bulldozing through 26 straight opponents, nobody can be blamed for not wanting to take that fight as even his latest opponent Al Iaquinta claimed it would take one or two million dollars for him to fight The Eagle.
After a chaotic week leading up to UFC 223, Ragin’ Al did eventually get the nod but was dominated for all five rounds as he too failed to find a solution to the confusing sambo blueprint the dominant Dagestani predictably brings to the Octagon, yet succeeds each and every time.
Tony Ferguson couldn’t meet him at the fourth time of asking, Max Holloway’s weight cut was always an issue as the one-week replacement while Khabib had to watch the likes of Iaquinta, Anthony Pettis and Paul Felder emerge as opponents.
Now that the dust has settled and the undisputed lightweight championship has found a new home in Dagestan, the biggest story to come out of it all is that Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor are all but destined to fight.
Since the win, Eddie Alvarez - who was famously knocked out by the Notorious at UFC 205 as the Irishman made history in Madison Square Garden - claimed that he is Khabib’s Kryptonite, suggesting he was the only person in the 155-pound division that can beat him.
When posed the question of who would win between Khabib and Conor, though, Alvarez didn’t stick with his former conqueror. While admitting that Nurmagomedov’s high-chin style can work in McGregor’s favour, he believes Nurmagomedov could crush McGregor’s spirit on the ground.
Speaking to Es News, he said: “So, styles make matchups. People try to do MMA math where they say, ‘Ed, you beat Conor so there’s no way he can beat Khabib.’ But styles are matchups. So, I think if Khabib does not correct the mistake of sitting back with his chin back and going to the side, Conor’s gonna put his lights out with that left hand - pretty bad, pretty quickly.
“So, he needs to correct that mistake and he needs to learn 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.
“But, Conor McGregor on his back, from the past, looking at everything, I don’t think he has a strong spirit for fighting on the ground. Some guys have a real strong spirit, they can stand up all day for five/ten rounds, as long as they’re standing up.
“But when it goes to their ground, their spirit weakens. I don’t think Conor has a strong enough spirit to be able to withstand Khabib’s ground attack over and over and over and over. I have to give the edge to Khabib, because I feel like there will be takedowns.
"Conor will not get up and I don’t know if he has the spirit to stay in the fight in a ground fight where Khabib is controlling for 15 to 20 minutes of a 25-minute bout.
“So, I have to give the edge to Khabib.”
Alvarez has been inside of the Octagon with McGregor and knows firsthand at the power he possesses. A lot has been made of Khabib’s high chin, but his ground game is something completely different which is why many do seem to give the edge to the Russian.
What do you make of Eddie Alvarez’s breakdown of Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov? Have YOUR say in the comments section below.