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After watching Khabib Nurmagomedov destroy Edson Barboza at UFC 219, I understand why Conor McGregor is (still) on vacation

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

That wasn’t a fight.

The word “fight” denotes a joint effort from both combatants. What I witnessed in the UFC 219 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, which took place last Saturday night (Dec. 30, 2017) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was sanctioned assault.

There’s just no way to sugarcoat it: Khabib Nurmagomedov beat the shit out of Edson Barboza en route to a lopsided unanimous decision win, while simultaneously vindicating all those folks who voted against five rounds in non-championship bouts.

Another 10 minutes of that shellacking might have ended in fatality, straight-up Mortal Kombat style.

Nurmagomedov improves to 9-0 in UFC and 25-0 overall. Those numbers would be dramatically higher had “The Eagle” not clipped his own wings with recurring injuries and troubles on the scale.

He might even be lightweight champion.

Instead, that honor belongs to Conor McGregor, who captured the crown with a blistering knockout win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in New York, an event that took place well over a year ago.

That was the last time “Notorious” has competed in mixed martial arts (MMA) and according to promotion president Dana White, McGregor could be out of action until next summer, perhaps even later.

Based on what I saw at UFC 219, I can understand why.

The most frustrating part about the Irishman’s vanishing act, if I can be perfectly honest, is that he doesn't have a very compelling reason to be absent. Athletes get hurt and have surgery, or suffer personal tragedy, or simply run out of opponents to fight.

Hey, shit happens.

None of that applies to McGregor, who is only out of work because he can afford to be (thanks to this). In the interim, top ranked contender Tony Ferguson was awarded the temporary title and the 155-pound division moves on.

I would expect Nurmagomedov to face Ferguson in the first quarter of 2018, with the winner moving on to unify the titles against McGregor later in the year. Working against “The Eagle” is the previously unsuccessful attempts to pair them off.

Could the Dagestani grappler skip the line?

Georges St-Pierre was able to pull that off when he bypassed interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker to fight Michael Bisping. But in order to make that happen, McGregor would have to agree to those terms.

And make good on this promise.

I just don’t see that happening. The power-punching Irishman can melt anyone with his hands (just ask this guy), but his takedown defense is not exactly the stuff of legend. Featherweight contender Chad Mendes was able to take him down four times in their 2015 affair.

Nurmagomedov has 43 takedowns in nine UFC fights.

McGregor is intelligent both inside and outside the cage and will likely play daddy until Ferguson and Nurmagomedov collide for the right to unify the titles. After watching what happened to Barboza’s face on Saturday night, I can’t say I blame him.

For much more on UFC 219 including results, recaps, highlights, and more, check out our “Cyborg vs. Holm” live story stream by clicking here.

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