Depending on who you talk to, Conor McGregor either did, or didn’t, demonstrate that he can deal with a high level grappler at UFC 189. It sounds like UFC commentator Kenny Florian, however, is of the opinion that he did…
The big question heading into McGregor’s title fight with Chad Mendes, was whether he could negate the latter’s noted wrestling game. Pior to Saturday, McGregor hadn’t faced a fighter with a top tier, wrestling pedigree in the Octagon, and doubters routinely pointed to this fact.
During the bout, Mendes took McGregor down on more than one occasion, and at times, did so somewhat easily. McGregor took some heavy shots from above, but at the end of the day, he went on to stop Mendes in round two.
Well, Florian weighed in on the bout during FOX Sports 1’s post-fight show. While discussing whether McGregor’s victory answers questions regarding his wrestling and ground game, Florian stated this (quote via FOX Sports 1 press release):
“Make no mistake, Mendes was winning the fight. He was doing unbelievable in the fight. But we had so many questions about McGregor answered tonight: can Conor deal with grappling? Yes, he can. He got to his feet repeatedly after getting taken down. Can he deal with the adversity? Yes, he was cut and kept fighting. He went and got the win. That’s a great W for Conor.”
There’s no question that McGregor showed a ton of grit during the bout, and obviously, he continued to demonstrate he’s one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport. He also managed to get out from under Mendes several times.
But, many will point out that the last time McGregor did so, was because “Money” was going for a choke. Mendes did so after controlling McGregor from the top for much of round two.
It was a huge win for McGregor; no question. He did take out one of the game’s best 145’ers and won the interim featherweight belt. Until McGregor faces high level wrestlers on multiple occasions, however, and shuts their takedowns down consistently, questions will likely remain (yes, even if McGregor says he was just being “patient”)
UFC 189 went down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.