Former UFC welterweight title challenger Dan Hardy has come through with a fantastic prediction for UFC 229’s main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is almost seen as an indestructible force in the UFC’s lightweight division. And it’s with good reason, I might add.
His detractors can say what they want about his record or even the level of opponents he has beaten, but his level of technique and his ability to impose his skills is unquestionable.
So with the truly unique challenge that Khabib poses in front of the returning Conor McGregor, UFC analyst Dan Hardy spoke during a recent edition of The BBC MMA Show and explained the factors that could work in Conor’s favour.
“No one has ever caught him with a good shot and put him down. We saw him hurt in the Michael Johnson fight, but Khabib’s main vulnerability for me in this fight is that he’s got no footwork, he only moves forward, there are no ideas of cutting off the octagon until he can lay his hands on someone.
“So that’s where Conor gets into this fight, he’s very intelligent.
“He’ll be circling off and walking Khabib into that left hand. I think this is going to be a very different version of Conor than we’ve ever seen.
“I think we will see a lot more lateral movement and a lot more footwork. I think he’s going to come in slightly lighter and better conditioned, and I think he’s going to be expecting to be taken down at least a couple of times.”
I think that weathering an early storm is likely for Conor and I think he’s going to have to maybe get out the first round and get back to his feet a couple of times, but I think he will find a place for that left hand in the late second or early third and I think Khabib will walk onto it.
“We’ve seen him slow down in the Al Iaquinta fight when we saw him do five rounds. He did slow down and there are points where you start thinking to yourself that if he was fighting Conor and if there was that sharp left hand in the toolbox, he’d be in trouble.”
Hardy is well known for his in-depth fight breakdowns but in continuing on from there, he highlighted a point that many hadn’t touched on.
One would have to assume that McGregor – given his power – was afforded some say in when exactly the fight would take place. Many were surprised at the fact that the showdown was to happen so soon after Conor’s legal woes disappeared.
‘The Outlaw’ has his own theory, however.
“There might be something else that’s not being considered and that’s that one thing that we do know about Khabib that he does struggle to make 155lbs sometimes.
“Conor’s coming up from 145lbs, you know, he made 145lbs. Having Khabib fight at 145lbs might be absolutely impossible.
“Conor might be banking on the fact that if he can turn this around quite quickly, he might force Khabib to cut weight quicker and tire quicker in the fight.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena