While it seems highly unlikely that we’re going to get it anytime soon after Dana White’s recent comments, hype over a potential fight between newly crowned lightweight champion Conor McGregor and undefeated wrestling supremo Khabib Nurmagomedov continues to build.
Recently retired middleweight legend Dan Henderson has added his take on what would happen if the two were to meet in the octagon. Speaking on The Adam Carolla Show on Friday (via MMA Fighting) ‘Hendo’ was unequivocal about who would win in the proposed bout.
“I think that kid that fought last weekend, I have trouble with his name, Magomedov, the Russian kid, that’s at 155 – I think he would definitely give Conor a huge problem. I think he definitely would take him down and beat the piss out of him.”
While it is true to say that if McGregor were to be taken down by ‘The Eagle’, it would likely result in him shipping a great deal of punishment, Henderson may not be giving enough credit to how difficult it is to take McGregor down without leaving yourself vulnerable to some heavy-handed shots.
McGregor’s takedown defence has seemingly vastly improved since he added jiu-jitsu champion Dillon Danis to his ranks as a training partner. This was evident when Nate Diaz failed in all but one attempt at the end of the fifth round to bring McGregor to the mat at UFC 202.
Similarly, the brief efforts Eddie Alvarez did make at UFC 205 were snuffed out relatively easily. While Nurmagomedov certainly has the capacity to defeat McGregor, the fact that Michael Johnson was able to visibly wobble the Russian in their encounter would demonstrate that the undefeated AKA fighter has a similar danger to fear in the Irishman’s devastating striking ability.
While there is no concrete evidence, there may also be a hint of personal bias on the part of Henderson at play here. It was noticeable in McGregor’s jubilant, albeit hobbled, walk out of the arena after his redemption victory against Nate Diaz, that Henderson appeared to be the catalyst for his now famous, “They all doubt me” outburst.
The above clip shows that within seconds of McGregor and Henderson making eye contact backstage, the Dubliner feels the need to smugly laugh at how his critics have now been silenced. Henderson, meanwhile, remains silent and looks down at his phone.
While this may be in danger of veering into the realm of armchair psychology that had many pronouncing that Nate was “in Conor’s head” prior to the rematch, it may just be the case that any prediction from Henderson that is related to The Notorious one may need to be taken with a grain of ever so pessimistic salt.
Vincent Whelan, Pundit Arena