Nurmagomedov threw down for the first time in 2017 this past Saturday, as the lightweight took on fellow contender, Edson Barboza. As many observers and fans thought would be the case, “The Eagle’s” galaxy class wrestling and grappling was too much for the talented striker, and Nurmagomedov earned a decisive, decision win.
Although it remains to be seen what comes next for Nurmagomedov, and whether Tony Ferguson will fight McGregor next, the 29 year-old was asked about the Irish star in the post-fight presser. Here’s some of what Nurmagomedov had to say (quote via MMA Fighting):
“Real belt is 25-0,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is real belt. They’re all fake belts. To be honest, real belt is Tony Ferguson. Conor, he has only one fight in UFC at 155 and he have champion. He beat Eddie Alvarez. He’s good fighter, but he’s not champ. I think lot of people can beat him in 155. This is my opinion. I think lot of people can beat him at 155. He has good boxing, good timing, but he don’t have wrestling, he don’t have grappling, he don’t have conditioning, but he have a belt.”
“If I fight with Conor, his chance is with boxing, maybe couple minutes I think. But worry if I’m wrestling with him all the time. Don’t striking with him. Protect myself, movement, change angles. Show him takedown, box, change levels like Cain Velasquez does. But we have lot of way. I can stay with my opponent, I can grappling with my opponent, my conditioning is better my wrestling is good.”
Chances are this is the take a lot of people have, in terms of what Nurmagomedov would need to do to defeat McGregor. There’s no doubt that if McGregor was unable to tag Nurmagomedov early on, the latter’s chances of winning the fight would rise exponentially. We haven’t see a lot of McGregor’s wrestling game to date in the Octagon, but it’s hard to imagine that he’d be able to keep the bout standing, if “The Eagle” was able to consistently clinch up.
Perhaps we’ll see in 2018, however, whether that theory is correct.