Leave it up to the mixed martial arts (MMA) “experts” to ruin all the fun. Dana White, earmuffs, please.
Firas Zahabi — long-time trainer of former UFC Welterweight (and Middleweight) champion Georges St-Pierre — has a few professional opinions on the upcoming blockbuster UFC 229 pay-per-view (PPV) main event between Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, which will take place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 6, 2018.
And to be quite honest, his take on a recent live chat (transcription via BloodyElbow.com), unfortunately, is rather spot on.
“What I’m doubting, what I don’t see very likely is a seesaw battle. Where there’s a lot of stand up, then they hit the ground, then they get back up, and they’re striking and they’re wrestling, and it’s a back-and-forth battle where it’s coming down the last round — that, I don’t see. I don’t see a very competitive fight even though these two fighters are great phenomenal competitors. The only reason I do see it this way — a one-sided victory — it’s purely because of their styles. McGregor’s style is completely opposite to Khabib’s .... That’s McGregor at a distance, sniping, and that’s Khabib up-close, in personal, tying up, clinching. It’s going to be a blowout either way. Either Khabib is going to win and it’s going to seem lopsided ... Khabib is going to take him down and maul him, or McGregor is going to catch him on his way in and knock him out. It’s going to happen one way or another.”
Having personally had this debate with numerous people since the 155-pound title bout was first announced, it’s fair to say that fight fans are (almost) split down the middle on the outcome of this bout ... for the exact reason(s) that Zahabi provided.
That’s because in McGregor’s case, he’s about to face the worst possible match up on the 155-pound roster. If there’s anything McGregor is less qualified to do — at least if past performances are any indication — is getting into a conditioning war and fighting off his back. Khabib is likely to enforce that reality at UFC 229 so “Notorious” better come with a new bag of tricks. After all, Khabib is planning on taking McGregor down 100 times.
Of course, McGregor could always flip the script and stun Khabib early with a left hand to recapture the UFC lightweight title. He has done it before. While Khabib has never been finished in his professional MMA career, he has shown that his chin can be cracked by the likes of Michael Johnson, who has nowhere near the stopping power of “Notorious.”
Anything can — and often does — happen in this fickle sport. There are no guarantees, but a controversial, close decision once the dust settles on UFC 229’s main event seems unfathomable. Damn near impossible, actually.