Before Khabib Nurmagomedov battles Conor McGregor in the UFC 229 main event this weekend, The Body Lock takes a look at what to expect from the mega-fight and tries to forecast who will come out on top.
Here are our predictions.
Khabib Nurmagomedov by KO/TKO – Round 5
Riordan O’Sullivan: If anyone is to beat Khabib, it’s Conor McGregor. Simple. That said, I can’t see the fight playing out in any way that isn’t a traumatic 25 minutes for the Irishman. He could have some success on the feet early, but this will probably be the only fleeting moment of glory that he’ll have before the Dagestani kicks into gear. It’ll be the same scary kind of beating that we’ve come to expect from Khabib with a little extra venom thrown in that’ll bring the bout to a halt in the fifth.
Khabib Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision
Anthony Crozzoli: Conor McGregor is truly a marksman with his striking and has a strong sense of timing and distance, which will be pitted against the boxing and relentless effort of Khabib Nurmagomedov. Conor will hold the edge in power and speed and however if Khabib can lend consecutive strikes often the tally will swing in his favor. On the ground and in all grappling engagements expect Khabib to be dominant and applying constant pressure, either with strong positioning or strikes or even submission attempts.
Conor’s takedown defense won’t be able to keep up with Khabib’s attempts, and there will be a lot of them to be sure. Conor’s best chance is to pick his shots and do his best to stuff the takedown or focus on getting back to his feet as soon as possible. I see Khabib Nurmagomedov taking this by dominant unanimous decision.
Conor McGregor by KO/TKO – Round 1
Charles Sganga: This wouldn’t be the first time Conor McGregor tried to do the unthinkable, and probably won’t be his last. How long can we doubt the man? No one thought Conor stood a chance against Aldo, and many said he had no shot against legitimate wrestlers the likes of Chad Mendes and Eddie Alvarez, yet we all know how those fights turned out.
Khabib has shown little weakness inside the Octagon, however, except round one of his fight with Michael Johnson at UFC 205. If that round showed anything, it’s that Khabib will eat some shots on his way in, chin up and exposed, and that is simply too costly a mistake when facing a knockout artist like McGregor.
A true master of distance, angles, and precision counter attacks, I see a similar scene to that of Jose Aldo for Khabib. ‘The Eagle’ will get clipped coming in for a predictable takedown and will hit the floor as the world looks on in jaw-dropping awe.
Conor McGregor by KO/TKO – Round 2
Joseph Mayall: The first round will likely consist of 2-3 minutes on the feet with McGregor collecting valuable information. He will likely be taken down or at least pushed against the fence for the remainder of the first. If he can survive that, which I believe he will, an early second round knockout is a likely possibility.
Conor McGregor by KO/TKO – Round 2
Jake Nichols: It’s legitimately absurd to back against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov in this contest, but I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway. Why? Well, Khabib relies on overwhelming his opponent with pressure to eventually create the opportunity for a takedown. You’ll rarely see Khabib execute a successful takedown from within the black tape. Once outside, though, it’s a different game. Will Conor McGregor let Khabib rush forward with reckless flurries to try and ‘steal’ the center of the cage? Not without dishing out severe punishment. This is a battle of pressure and McGregor’s insane ability to control the flow and tempo of a fight is what will see him get over the line in this one.
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.