Coach doesn’t believe Khabib Nurmagomedov needs to beat Conor McGregor to prove undisputed status

Khabib Nurmagomedov Javier Mendez

Two of the biggest fights in UFC history are linked to the American Kickboxing Academy. That should tell you all you need to know about their talent.

One of those fights is actually taking place next Saturday at UFC 226 as the UFC light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier will go up to challenge for Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight crown in a super fight for the ages.

The other is one that is only reported as in the works right now but with nothing official. Of course, this is the high octane rivalry bout between UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov and former champion, Conor McGregor.

Coaching both of the champions, Nurmagomedov and Cormier at AKA is Javier Mendez. The leading man of the San Jose, California based gym recently talked with Submission Radio to discuss the likelihood of the lightweight title fight happening next as well as how realistic it is and what it could mean for his fighter.

“I’m not sure [if the fight will happen next].” Mendez said, “From what I’m reading, [McGregor’s coach] John Kavanagh said that he’ll bet anything that that fight happens this year.

No [I’m not in on that bet], because I don’t know what New York has planned for him. We’ll see come his final court hearing. They have more inside information on that, but hey man, anything could happen, you know? One thing I will say is if it does get licensed it won’t be in New York, it would have to be in Vegas. So, the fight will have to be in Vegas if it happens this year. I’m hoping it happens this year. The fans need to see it. We need to have something outside of the Stipe and DC fight, we need to have another blockbuster, and I think that would be the blockbuster of all time if they can ever get that one together.”

At this point, it just seems like a matter of when for the two top lightweights and when they’ll meet in the Octagon. Although, whether or not we’ll even ever see McGregor fight again is also a question due to his absence from MMA since November 2016.

“I don’t know [if October is a realistic time] cause I don’t know what’s going on.” Mendez continued, “Islam [Makachev] and those guys, [Khabib’s] other training partners, are here getting ready for their fights. I don’t know. I’m thinking October if he’s training, which I’m pretty sure he is, is doable, but I think it’s probably more realistic November, December. That’s what I’m thinking now based on what’s going on.

No, I don’t think he needs to beat McGregor [to prove he’s the real champ], but I think he needs to personally beat a Tony Ferguson, he needs to beat like a [Georges St-Pierre]-type guy. He needs to beat some top, top, top guys to really solidify his place in history. That I do think he needs to do. But, does he need to fight Conor? Depends on Conor. If Conor’s fighting, then yes, he does. But if Conor’s not, then that obviously, it doesn’t matter. He’s still going to make history by beating the other guys. But it would be nice to get Conor in there, only because that’s the fight everybody wants to see.”

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/29/2018