Khabib Nurmagomedov might be one of the most feared fighters in the UFC lightweight division, but the undefeated Dagestani isn’t exactly known for his finishing ability.
Nurmagomedov, who outclassed Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 earlier this month to win the undisputed lightweight title, has finished four of his ten fights under the UFC banner. While McGregor, who was recently stripped of the 155-pound belt due to inactivity, has one of the highest knockout ratios in the sport, having finished most of his opponents in the opening two rounds.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor are expected to collide for the lightweight title — if McGregor can iron out his pending legal issues — in the coming months, and SBG Ireland coach Owen Roddy believes Khabib’s lack of finishing ability is a major chink in the Russian’s armor - one that can be exploited come fight night.
‘The Eagle’ has insisted that he likes to drag his opponents into the late rounds, but Roddy isn’t buying it. The head striking coach believes McGregor could put Khabib’s lights out within the first thirty seconds of the first round, or at the end of the fifth round.
“At the end of the day, Khabib hasn’t finished many fights lately,” Roddy said on the BBC MMA show on Thursday (h/t Oscar Willis of The Mac Life). “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 somebody. 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 still has five attempts to land one shot. I’ve seen Conor McGregor go in and land within the first thirty seconds of the first round.”
Nurmagomedov might not be the most notorious finisher but, like ex-welterweight and middleweight champ Georges St-Pierre, the 29-year-old is one of the most consistently dominant fighters on the UFC roster. Khabib overwhelms and breaks his opponents with his seemingly unstoppable takedowns and pressure-grappling, which is what makes a fight with McGregor so intriguing.
McGregor is arguably the best boxer in the sport, but the knockout artist has shown tendencies to tire in the mid to later rounds and has notoriously struggled with grapplers. McGregor struggled to deal with the explosive wrestling of Chad Mendes back in 2015 and was choked out by Nate Diaz at UFC 196, after exhausting himself in the first round.
Nurmagomedov says he is in talks with team McGregor over a potential fight, but is not willing to wait until next year. McGregor is currently embroiled in legal drama over his reckless actions at the Barclays Center in New York. The Irish combat sports star is due in court on June 14 on charges of assault and criminal mischief.