American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez has no problem admitting that Conor McGregor is a better striker than Khabib Nurmagomedov, but he still can’t fathom the Russian lightweight champion losing the fight.
Ahead of UFC 229, when “The Eagle” is set to defend his title against McGregor, Mendez lauded his student’s mental fortitude. He claimed that Nurmagomedov is so mentally strong that he doubts he will ever lose a single fight.
“I’m of the belief that Khabib’s mental strength is so strong that I personally feel that he’s never going to lose,” Mendez told Niall McGrath on MMA Fighting’s all-new Eurobash Podcast. “I really don’t — I don’t think he’s ever going to lose. He’s going to find whatever he needs to do to win, whether he does it my way or does it his way, he’s going to find a way to win and that’s just what he does.”
Mendez claims that he and Nurmagomedov will put together the gameplan that they hope will overcome the Irishman in Las Vegas on Oct. 6.
“Basically it’s just me and him, myself and Khabib. We go through the gameplan and I structure it. I’ve mostly been the one that structures all of the gameplans, except for with Daniel [Cormier], it’s myself and Bob Cook. I’ve been doing all the gameplans, the other coaches do a fantastic job and they fall into place where they’re needed, but the gameplan is usually always me.”
When asked about the animosity between the two fighters stemming from April’s bus attack in Brooklyn, Mendez again cited Nurmagomedov’s mental strength as a reason why he doesn’t worry about keeping the lightweight champion emotionally in check.
“I’m not going to have to worry about keeping [Nurmagomedov] in check. He is so mentally strong that it’s not going to be an issue at all. Like I said, Conor is going to press his buttons, but it doesn’t matter. I believe Khabib is going to stay cool throughout the whole thing,” Mendez said.
“He’s going to dish it out as good as he gets it, and trust me, Conor’s going to give it to him because Conor is master at playing the game. He’s going to find an equal mental sparring partner as well as physical. This fight is going to be mental and physical, outside the fight and inside the fight, they’re both going to fight for the advantages.”
Check out the first episode of Eurobash podcast below. MMA Fighting’s Peter Carroll is joined by former Cage Warriors flyweight champion and UFC veteran Neil Seery, and Off The Ball’s Niall McGrath to discuss all of the recent developments on the European MMA scene. The Javier Mendez interview begins at 15:00.