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Morning Report: Conor McGregor’s striking coach: I’m sure we’ll see him fight Khabib Nurmagomedov

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UFC 205 Open Workout Photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

At UFC 205, Conor McGregor knocked out Eddie Alvarez to become the undisputed lightweight champion. Earlier that evening, undefeated No. 1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov had an impressive showing over Michael Johnson and afterwards called Dana White’s “chicken” for a title fight. That fight didn’t come to fruition then but now it looks like it might.

Speaking recently with The BBC MMA Show, McGregor’s striking coach, Owen Roddy, said that all signs are seemingly pointing towards a fight between his protege and Nurmagomedov.

“There’s been a lot of talk about this Khabib fight and it seems to be brewing towards this one,” said Roddy. “You earn the chance to fight Conor. You have to be worthy to fight him. Khabib is doing very well fighting-wise. I see holes in his game but he’s building a big ruckus. He’s calling [Conor out] now and people are getting behind him and it’s starting to build, and once it gets to that tipping point, I’m sure we’ll see that fight.”

Since sharing a fight card at UFC 205, the paths of McGregor and Nurmagomedov have diverged substantially. McGregor has not competed in MMA since then, instead opting to box Floyd Mayweather in one of the most lucrative fights of all time. His sustained absence from MMA resulted in him being stripped of his lightweight title though and Nurmagomedov recently laid claim to that belt with a dominant decision win over late-replacement Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.

Before that fight card though, McGregor caused a ruckus, crashing a media event and attacking the bus Nurmagomedov was in, seemingly in retaliation for a minor incident earlier in the week between Nurmagomedov and McGregor’s friend, Artem Lobov. McGregor was arrested for the incident, resulting in widespread media attention and laying the groundwork for a potentially enormous promotional build. That build has been in the works for some time though, at least in McGregor’s head, says Roddy.

“Conor’s a mad thing,” Roddy said. “Conor turned around to me just after the Mayweather fight and said, ‘There’s talk of me fighting Khabib. I might do it in Russia.’ Then he says to me, ‘We’ll do it like Rocky. We’ll go to Siberia and we’ll train in the snow. I’ll get one of those yokes to put on my shoulders to get the lats’. I was crying with laughter. He was serious. Dead serious. Conor does mad things. That’s what we love him for. There’s not many people who would do that. It would be an exciting fight. I don’t know what’s going to happen next but I would like to see it.”

McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov is quite possibly the biggest fight in UFC history as each man is the perfect foil for the other. McGregor is one of the most potent strikers in UFC history but has questionable takedown defense, while Nurmagomedov is one of the most dominant grapplers in the sport but has widely lamented striking skills. It would be a throwback stylistic clash between two of the biggest names in the sport having to answer the biggest questions about their games. Can Nurmagomedov take McGregor down? Can McGregor land punches on Nurmagomedov before he closes the distance? Can Nurmagomedov even close the distance? How will McGregor’s cardio hold up to the onslaught of Nurmagomedov? In the end though, Roddy says that since Nurmagomedov isn’t known as a finisher, come fight night, only one question will matter: will Nurmagomedov’s chin handle the punches McGregor will land on him?

“At the end of the day, Khabib hasn’t finished many fights lately,” Roddy said. “Now he always says he does that on purpose, but I don’t think so. If you’re going to go in and finish somebody, you go in and finish them. He says, ‘I like punish people for five rounds.’ I always say, if you’re going to give Conor McGregor five attempts to land a shot on you, so even if he went in and didn’t land the first round, or the second, or the third, or the fourth, he has five attempts to land one shot.

“I’ve seen Conor McGregor go in and land within the first 30 seconds of the first round. You see that against every person he’s fought - MMA fighters, boxers, everybody. He’s so elusive, he’s so good at maintaining the range, he’s so good at giving people shots that they think they can land and then setting up everything off that. I just see him land and not many people can take it. I don’t know if Khabib can take it either.”

Nurmagomedov has indicated he wants to return to defend his title around November and does not wish to wait for McGregor if “Notorious” isn’t ready to go by then. If McGregor does not want to return in that time frame, instead Nurmagomedov has a number of lightweight contenders chomping at the bit for a title fight, including Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier, and Kevin Lee.


MUST-READ STORIES

Results. Check out the results from Bellator’s latest offering, including the return of Fedor.

Hall of Fame. UFC creator Art Davie to be inducted into Hall of Fame.

Boooo. After loss to Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje will look to use his wresting skills more.

Silly. Eddie Alvarez calls Dustin Poirier’s claim he turned down rematch five times ‘silly talk.’

Out. Gunnar Nelson out of UFC Liverpool due to knee injury.


VIDEO STEW

UFC 223: Focus.

Bellator highlights.

Of course you would.

Rogan’s live reaction to Fedor-Mir.


LISTEN UP

Middle Easy Fist Fight. Discussing what UFC Atlantic City was like cageside.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Update on Ray Borg’s son.

Rats.

Ready to step up.

10 million.

Being Conor’s outspoken friend is a good way to build your profile it seems.

Keep an eye on this.

Call outs.

New legit prospect on the block.

For your info.

Legitimately the worst cut I’ve seen in all my MMA fandom.

Weekend violence.

And the highlight of the weekend.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Stefan Struve (28-10) vs. Marcin Tybura (16-4); UFC Hamburg, July 22.

Darko Stosic (12-1) vs. Jeremy Kimball (15-7); UFC Hamburg, July 22.

Nicco Montano (4-2) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (15-3); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Jose Aldo (26-4) vs. Jeremy Stephens (28-14); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Randa Markos (8-5) vs. Nina Ansaroff (8-5); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Islam Makhachev (15-1) vs. Kajan Johnson (23-12-1); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Hakeem Dawodu (7-1-1) vs. Austin Arnett (15-4); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Dustin Ortiz (18-7) vs. Matteus Nicolau (13-1-1); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-4) vs. Ion Cutelaba (13-3); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Jordan Mein (30-12) vs. Alex Morono (14-4); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

John Makdessi (15-6) vs. Ross Pearson (20-14); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.

Alexis Davis (19-7) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (10-1); UFC on FOX 30, July 28.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2011: Georges St-Pierre successfully defended his UFC welterweight title, winning a unanimous decision over Jake Shields at UFC 129. In the co-main event, Jose Aldo successfully defended his featherweight title for the first time in the UFC, winning a unanimous decision over Mark Hominick. This event also saw the final fight in the career of Randy Couture, who was knocked out by a jumping front kick from Lyoto Machida.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Personally, I thought Bellator’s card on Saturday was one of their more enjoyable efforts in recent memory. Maybe that’s just the nostalgia speaking since Fedor actually managed to win one but the whole event definitely felt like it was better than most Bellators as far as interest and fan appeal. I mean, it was no CamSodaLegends but it was definitely fun. Now we just have to hope that somehow Cro Cop gets to sub in against Fedor in the finals.

We’ve got a light fight week this week everybody so stay frosty and see y’all tomorrow.


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