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Team Khabib accepts Joe Rogan’s apology, baffled by ‘crazy’ UFC 223 commentary

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Long-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) color commentator Joe Rogan caught some flack for his critical analysis of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s striking during his unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta in the main event of UFC 223 last weekend (Sat., April 7, 2018) in Brooklyn, New York.

While most fight fans were expecting to see Nurmagomedov maul Iaquinta — a last-second replacement who had just 98 seconds of total cage time in the past year — with his crushing wrestling and ground-and-pound (like this), “The Eagle” opted to let the action ride out on the feet for the majority of the bout.

And while Rogan has since apologized for his criticism, he was far from impressed with Nurmagomedov’s striking technique. Now, Nurmagomedov’s head striking coach at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Javier Mendes, has spoken out about Rogan’s thoughts, offering up his own critical response.

“I saw the fight last night with Joe Rogan [commentating] and he totally didn’t understand what the hell’s going on,” Mendez said on a recent edition of “The MMA Hour“ (via MMA Fighting). “Because he totally based that thing completely wrong. ‘Oh, he exposed Khabib. There’s a lot of holes in his game.’ There’s no holes in his game. He’s never been a stand-up guy, yet he’s gotten better, and if you don’t acknowledge how much better he’s gotten compared to the last time, then you’re not really doing your research. Because he switched Southpaw on this guy, he even did a Goddamn back kick for God’s sake!” said a fired up Mendez.

“He’s improving all the time and you need to acknowledge that. Don’t act like he’s got these holes in his game. Jesus Christ, do you think if he’s going to fight Nate Diaz, we’re going to stand with Nate Diaz? Do you think we have a chance [standing] against Nate Diaz? Do you think I think that? For God’s sake, no way.

To hear Mendez tell it, the gameplan was specific to the last-minute foe, and should a fight against Conor McGregor come to light, then it will obviously change.

“No way in hell are we going to fight with Conor [McGregor]’s stand-up, too. Everybody’s got a different gameplan, and if you don’t change the gameplan according to what’s going on, you’re going to get checkmated.”

As far as Rogan’s apology goes, Mendez accepts it, but also says Joe shouldn’t apologize for his thoughts, saying that at the end of the day he is still fantastic at what he does.

“I love Rogan, but yeah, if he’s apologized, he shouldn’t,” Mendez said. “He doesn’t need to apologize. Hey, that guy’s fantastic in my eyes. He says something, it causes controversy. So for me, he doesn’t need to apologize. But, I’m sure he’s probably getting a lot of hate mail, because, I mean, when you think about it — right? — you call [a fight for] this guy [and say] he’s open [to getting hit], open ... but yet he out-struck a guy that, before this, you would’ve thought he’d never out-strike,” he concluded.

Indeed, Rogan has never been one to bite his tongue.