While the rematch was unlikely to happen, any hopes of seeing Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor 2 crashed and burned when Dustin Poirier finished McGregor in the second round of the UFC 257 main event on Jan. 24.
Poirier became the first fighter to stop McGregor via strikes after compromising the Irishman’s mobility with leg kicks. It was something Nurmagomedov’s coach, Javier Mendez, saw coming moments into the UFC bout.
“When I saw Dustin start going for the leg kicks, I go, oh my god, Conor’s stance is not made for checking properly, leg kicks like that. Especially calf kicks. So, I thought that was going to be a major problem. And then when he hit Dustin with the good shot and Dustin took it, that’s when I kind of knew, oh boy, things are gonna change. And sure enough, they did. And it was a great game plan from Dustin to work the leg kicks, calf kicks. And it was a bad judgement on Conor’s part to not be prepared for that,” Mendez recently told Submission Radio.
“I don’t understand how you cannot be prepared for something like that, when that’s what everyone’s going to. Khabib, I told him, I reminded him every day that Justin (Gaethje) is coming after your legs, Justin’s coming after your legs. Every day I was telling him that. And you would think that you would be reminded also because that’s a big weapon. Until fighters learn how to deal with it, it’s gonna be a big weapon, guys, big weapon,” Mendez said.
Judging from McGregor’s performance, Mendez believes “The Notorious” would have been easily defeated by Nurmagomedov in a rematch.
“He would’ve got smashed. Khabib’s gotten better. He would’ve gotten smashed. He would have gotten smashed. Straight up. Khabib’s better. He’s better than he was when they fought two years ago. Conor didn’t appear to be better. He’s regressed a little bit. Khabib’s gotten way better. He would have gotten smashed,” said Mendez.
With McGregor’s loss to Poirier, Mendez believes that door on a rematch with Nurmagomedov has permanently closed.
“You’re never gonna get that rematch. Just like you’re never going to get the Tony (Ferguson) and Khabib fight. That’s never gonna happen either. It’s not gonna happen. I mean, Khabib doesn’t need it. He seems fulfilled. And like I said, I think the only juicy part for him is what his father wanted, GSP. I’ve said it many times. And who knows, maybe that’s out of the question now. Maybe GSP doesn’t want it, maybe Khabib don’t want it now. I don’t know, cause I never talked to Khabib about what he wants, I’ve always listened to him,” said Mendez.
According to Mendez, a fight against Georges St-Pierre was the only fight that could have lured Nurmagomedov back into the Octagon. Even if McGregor had beaten Poirier, Mendez isn’t sure if it would have mattered.
“I didn’t even know if he [Conor] would’ve done great that Khabib would even fight him, cause he’s gotta ask his mother’s permission first. You guys gotta remember, the key thing is, he’s gotta ask his mother for permission too. And I didn’t see GSP being offered. And I thought the only way he was gonna come out of it was if GSP was in that picture. But based what it happened, I don’t see why he would want to come out and fight anybody. Why? Fighting the best is not gonna motivate him. He’s not looking at the money aspect of it. But if they can put GSP, if they can put GSP on the table, maybe there’s a chance there,” he said.
“And I’m not saying it will happen, because I don’t know, but I’m just saying GSP might be the only one. I’ve always thought it was GSP, because that’s what his father wanted, and I think if they can get that one worked out and he can get his mother’s permission, I think that one could work. But I don’t think anybody else is gonna work. Period”
“If he asked my opinion, I would say hold out for GSP, or retire. That’s what I would tell him. But he’s never asked me, so that conversation never took place,” Mendez said.
This article first appeared at News | MMAWeekly.com
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