As a website founded by the man himself, The Mac Life gets unprecedented access to the camp of Conor McGregor.
The team have been low-key in the build-up to the Irishman’s title challenge against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, with the first media presence only occurring tomorrow, just over two weeks until the fight.
Before that long-awaited press conference, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has done an interview with the site’s Andrew McGahon, speaking at length about ‘The Notorious’ one’s preparation for Khabib and about the fight itself.
The bout is understandably being framed as the throwback ‘striker vs grappler’ match-up.
Few possess the punching accuracy and power that McGregor has at the lower weights, while Khabib’s dominant, strike-heavy manner of wrestling really sets him apart from great grappling contemporaries such as Jake Shields and Ben Askren.
But as Kavanagh acknowledges, the fight may well be more nuanced than that. Khabib felt confident enough in his striking to stay on the feet for the majority of his title win against Al Iaquinta, while McGregor has fared well in clinch exchanges with both Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez.
Nonetheless, this ‘plan B’ as the SBG coach terms it, pales in comparison to the prowess that both fighters hold in their respective domain. This singular approach is like the Diaz fight, but substitute out boxing for wrestling in this scenario.
“It’s [the fight] similar to Nate but for completely different stylistic reasons,” he told McGahon.
“If you’re fighting Nate you’re probably not dealing with a whole lot of takedowns. He doesn’t shoot in all that often. You’re probably not dealing with a whole lot of kicks, maybe not even knees and elbows. It’s almost like dealing with a boxing match, almost a singular style approach to fighting.
“Now with Khabib, he probably brings more to that problem because with Khabib he will throw shots. His last fight was mostly stand-up after the first round. We could probably guess that he’s going to shoot [for a takedown] right from the locker room right at the start of round one like he did in the Al Iaquinta fight.
There’s probably going to be a low single coming right away. I find it hard to imagine that they have any plans for any exchanges on the feet.”
It was then that the jiu-jitsu enthusiast turned to the psychological aspect of the fight, where he feels that McGregor has the distinct advantage if he’s winning the physical battle.
“I don’t think Khabib has lost a single round in his UFC career. If you do lose a round are you going to be able to come back out with that same level of confidence in the next round? There’s a lot of interesting things to be played out in this fight.”
This is a distinct possibility. McGregor faced little resistance in the UFC bar the Chad Mendes fight before losing to Diaz at UFC 196. He wilted under the duel duress of gassing out and being wobbled.
Facing a similar challenge in the rematch, he survived a suffocating third round before winning a decision.
But in spite of the fact that Nurmagomedov has barely lost a round, his shut-out decision win over Gleison Tibau in 2012 is hotly disputed to this day. Per MMADecisions, five of the six submitted scorecards from media outlets had Tibau winning.
That being said, even if Khabib hasn’t faced more resistance than many believe, there’s no reason to believe that the Russian will fold under pressure on October 6, unless ‘Mystic Kav’ really has emulated his clairvoyant student.
The full interview can be seen here.