Kevin Lee: Conor McGregor is 'probably going to sleep' Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229
Ask anyone what the UFC 229 lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor comes down to, and you’re likely to get the same answer every time: Nurmagomedov’s wrestling vs. McGregor’s striking.
More specifically, can Nurmagomedov (26-0 MMA, 10-0 UFC) avoid McGregor’s (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) dangerous left hand as he tries to take him down? UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee doesn’t see it happening.
“I think Conor’s probably going to sleep him,” Lee said during an appearance on MMAjunkie Radio. “I’m just looking at the matchup and how the styles is, and especially with someone like Khabib. Khabib’s just got the same holes that I’ve been seeing for years and years and years. And I know Conor’s been seeing them, too. So, when you see those holes, and they’re not getting at least a little closed, then he’s going to get slept.”
Those “holes” Lee points out came to light during Nurmagomedov’s UFC 223 victory over a game Al Iaquinta on just one day’s notice. While the Dagestani champ dominated for a landslide unanimous decision, his performance was met with criticism.
Why did it even last all five rounds to begin with? Many wondered. Among them was UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who pointed out flaws in Nurmagomedov’s stand-up defense. Rogan also wondered if the choice to stand with Iaquinta was the result of some difficulty to take him down, which doesn’t surprise Lee.
“Khabib misses a lot of shots, too,” Lee said. “(If) you look at his film, his actual stand-up wrestling and transition game is trash.”
Can Nurmagomedov’s weaknesses be exploited against a striker of the highest caliber in McGregor? That remains to be seen. Lee doesn’t hesitate to describe what will happen if the champ is successful in taking down McGregor.
“He’ll get mauled,” Lee said.
But, Lee added, “he’s got to do that five times.”
“I don’t see him finishing him. He’s going to beat the hell out of him, and he might break Conor’s spirit, because Conor can be broken, but I think Conor might be already kind of expecting that. And when something like that happens and you expect it, I don’t think it breaks you as easily.”
There’s also an obvious x-factor at play: McGregor’s long layoff from MMA. “The Notorious” hasn’t..
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