The UFC 229 press conference, which featured UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and his upcoming opponent Conor McGregor, produced all of the trash talk and saber-rattling we anticipated. Most of that trash talk, of course, came from McGregor, who is as known for his gift of gab as he is for his fistic proficiency.
While Conor McGregor is infamous for his trash talk, many fans feel he crossed some lines at this UFC 229 press conference, as he targeted Nurmagomedov’s entourage, his family, and even his religion.
Nurmagomedov’s head coach Javier Mendez shares this opinion, though he isn’t exactly surprised.
“He took it too far as far as what should not be done,” Javier Mendez said of Conor McGregor’s trash talk on the latest episode of BJPENN.COM Radio. “To me, I always tell my fighters, stay away from family, stay away from politics, stay away from religion. Those are the three subjects he hit repeatedly. Over, and over, and over again. But that’s who he is, so it’s not like we weren’t expecting he wasn’t gonna do that. Most of the fighters respect those things and they don’t touch them. Not this guy, that’s not his style.”
“His style, he don’t give a — he’s gonna say whatever he wants,” he added. “To get into your head, and he’s not doing it cause he’s a bad guy, he’s doing it because he’s trying to screw with your head. And that’s what he was doing. Unfortunately in this case they do hate each other, so I will say that.”
While Khabib Nurmagomedov could have easily fired back at Conor McGregor, he instead chose to hold is tongue, confident that he’ll have the chance to do his talking in the cage at UFC 229. Javier Mendez believes it’s for the best that Nurmagomedov didn’t engage McGregor in a war of words at the press conference.
“Originally, I told [Nurmagomedov], before this all started, ‘he’s gonna come at you with everything you could think of,'” Mendez said. “He’s gonna do his research, he’s gonna come in and throw some stuff at you and make things up, and this and that. I go, ‘so you need to come back at him with fire, like he is,’ and [Nurmagomedov] goes, ‘No, I’m not gonna do that, that’s not who I am, coach.’ And I said, ‘Okay, well if that’s not who you are, then don’t do it. What you need to do is stay relaxed, stay calm, don’t get into a heated debate with him on a lot of these subjects, cause he’s gonna come at you.’ And that’s exactly what he did.”
“It’s probably the best what we did, because Connor wasn’t letting Khabib talk anyway,” he added.
While very little seemed to be off limits when Conor McGregor got talking at the UFC 229 press conference, Javier Mendez is adamant that the Irishman’s verbal venom didn’t have much affect on Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I’m sure he got a little bit agitated, because as a fighter, you do want to come up, but you remain calm and relaxed,” Mendez explained. “And you hold out. And he remained as calm as he could be. Hundred percent.”
In fact, Nurmagomedov told Mendez that McGregor’s trash talk didn’t both him — although his whiskey breath did.
“From what I know, it’s [had] zero [effect],” Mendez said. “I called him, I go, ‘How’d you feel?’ And he goes, ‘Great, coach, I feel really good.’ He goes, ‘Coach, he smelled like whiskey really bad.’ Well, who knows if it was only on the stage, or before the stage, I don’t know. It definitely was a ploy. He definitely was doing it to get his brand over. So, good for him. It was one of those things where I think he tried as hard as he could to get Khabib riled up and it didn’t work.”
“We’re going in, October 6th, and we’re gonna smash [McGregor],” he concluded. “That’s it. He doesn’t change, no anger, no nothing. Emotionless.”
What did you think of Conor McGregor’s trash talk at the UFC 229 press conference? Do you think it had the desired affect on Khabib Nurmagomedov?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/27/2018.