At 26-0, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has never lost a fight. On October 6, in the main event of UFC 229, former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor will attempt to change that.
In the opinion of Conor McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh, defeating Khabib Nurmagomedov could begin with winning a single round. Nurmagomedov faces adversity so infrequently that the Irish MMA coach isn’t sure the Russian knows how to cope with it.
“It is interesting fighting an unbeaten fighter,” John Kavanagh said of Khabib Nurmagomedov in a recent interview with The Mac Life. “I’ve had a lot of my guys that went a long time unbeaten and then they have the loss. It’s always interesting to see, in that fight where they had their first loss, when things start to go wrong. It’s an unusual feeling for them and sometimes they struggle to deal with that.
“I don’t think Khabib has lost a single round in his UFC career. If you do lose a round are you going to be able to come back out with that same level of confidence in the next round? There’s a lot of interesting things to be played out in this fight.”
If Khabib Nurmagomedov wants to win rounds, of course, he’ll likely have to use his world class wrestling and avoid prolonged striking exchanges. Kavanagh expects the Russian to shoot on Conor McGregor early and often.
“If we were to be betting we could probably guess that he’s going to shoot right from the locker room right at the start of round one like he did in the Al Iaquinta fight. There’s probably going to be a low single coming right away. I find it hard to imagine that they have any plans for any exchanges on the feet.
“Not that he went for a whole lot of takedowns but he did start failing on his takedowns against Al Iaquinta and then he went back to that nice jab he was using in the fight. He’s rounding out his game. He’s with AKA, a very strong kickboxing background with [Javier] Mendez. I suppose they do have that as a ‘Plan B.’”
Who do you think will win when Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor fight at UFC 229?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/20/2018.