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Morning Report: Conor McGregor blames drop in dedication for loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, wants rematch

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor’s fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 was the biggest fight in UFC history. It had all the elements a truly historic clash. McGregor, the brash talking champion in exile, returning to reclaim his title against a man entirely his opposite, both in style and personality. Nurmagomedov, Combat Sambo Ivan Drago , undefeated for a decade and looking establishing himself as the rightful lightweight champion and “humble” McGregor for disparaging remarks about his country, religion, and family. But while the fight did record-breaking numbers, the actual contest was not a particularly great fight.

Nurmagomedov trounced McGregor, almost from the opening bell, taking “Notorious” down with relative ease and imposing his will. Nurmagomedov even dropped McGregor with an overhand in the second round, and eventually submitted the former two-division champion with a neck crank in the fourth round. But now, several months removed from his loss, McGregor thinks he has the answer for what happened, and wants the chance to fix it.

“He’s a formidable opponent, wrestled bears since he was a kid, has put a lot of time in his standup work,” McGregor told fans in Chicago over the weekend (video courtesy of Mike Pendleton). “He was a lot sharper than I anticipated it was going to be. I’ve got to respect that. It was his big moment.

“It’s easy to do this once. It’s very easy for someone to be given something and to do it just one time. You put your absolute all into it. But to do it time after time and year after year, that’s when the motivation kind of dips, that’s when the dedication kind of lacks, and that’s when people creep up. That’s what I feel has happened here. I didn’t give him his respect, I marched forward, I didn’t give a sh*t, I got caught with that overhand. If I was switched on, I would not get caught with that overhand in any form of combat. I’m very confident, very eager, very in shape, let’s keep it going.”

McGregor has had a whirlwind couple of years. After winning the UFC lightweight title, the double champion crossed over to boxing for a superfight with Floyd Mayweather, started his own clothing line and brand of whiskey, and was arrested for attacking a bus Nurmagomedov was on. McGregor had not fought MMA in two years when he stepped in against the best lightweight in the world, a tall task for anyone. Of course, McGregor couldn’t just leave it at that. Instead, he questioned the cowardly nature of Nurmagomedov’s approach to their fight and his insistence on wrestling.

“Imagine almost dropping someone - because he almost got me, but he didn’t drop me - I got back to my feet, threw shots, threw a knee, and then he shot [for a takedown],” McGregor exclaimed. “Imagine almost dropping someone with a picture-perfect shot, a picture-perfect punch, and then shooting for the legs. You almost got the fight done and you shoot for the legs?! Stand up and fight.”

The strategy worked out well for Nurmagomedov, who violently ground-and-pounded McGregor for most of the rest of the round en route to a 10-8 score. McGregor did recover in the third round, putting combinations together and looking like he may turn the tide, but in the fourth, Nurmagomedov finally got a truly dominant position and finished the bout. But despite this, McGregor maintains that the two need to have a rematch, if for no other reason than the post-fight brawl wherein he and members of Nurmagomedov’s entourage threw punches at each other in the cage while Khabib jumped the fence to attack Dillon Danis. All of that, demands retribution.

“When you beat a man convincingly, it’s not really necessary to go back for a rematch but when there’s dispute, there must be a rematch,” McGregor said. “There was dispute in my last one. I slapped his brother and his cousin on top of the cage, he tried to jump out and run. This is not over, so there’s dispute, there has to be a rematch.”

McGregor isn’t the only one who wants a rematch though. A rematch between Conor and Khabib is the biggest fight the UFC can put together at this point and UFC President Dana White is hoping the two fighters will square off again this year. Unfortunately, Nurmagomedov is refusing to fight until November in protest against the suspensions and fines handed out by the Nevada Athletic Commission over the UFC 229 brawl. In the meantime though, Conor can always finish up the trilogy he says he owes Nate Diaz.

“Diaz gave me my rematch and I’ve got respect for that,” McGregor said (video from TMZ Sports). “We fought, he beat me, he gave me a rematch at the exact same weight, there was no hesitation. That’s a true fighter right there so I’ve got nothing but respect. I owe him the trilogy now and the trilogy will happen.”

McGregor is suspended until April for his role in the UFC 229 brawl. He had previously been linked to a bout with Donald Cerrone, but with Cerrone now set to face Al Iaquinta, McGregor is targeting a July return against a yet to be determined opponent.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Conor, I hate to break it to you my guy, but it doesn’t get much more convincing than your fight with Khabib. Fortunately, the UFC is pretty clearly setting you up against the winner of Poirier-Holloway so you might get your shot after all.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

Poll

Do Conor and Khabib need to rematch?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Yes, immediately.
    (182 votes)
  • 49%
    Yes, at some point in the future.
    (1119 votes)
  • 42%
    No.
    (949 votes)
2250 votes total Vote Now

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