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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Is Conor McGregor Ready for Khabib Nurmagomedov?

September 13, 2018 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
Conor McGregor Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC 229

Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and it is my pleasure to bring you a hearty serving of Fact or Fiction MMA. Remember, your comments and votes are appreciated, so please be sure to leave your comments and vote below. This week, we have two hard-hitting fact or fiction monsters going toe-to-toe. Dino Zee and Robert Winfree will lock horns over Colby Covington’s ability to beat Tyron Woodley, Conor McGregor’s wrestling, Nicco Montano losing her title, and much more! Grab some grub and strap in because it’s time for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA!

Dino “Salad Bar” Zee
Contributor, 411 Wrestling Zone


Robert “The Last Rider” Winfree
Contributor/Live Coverage Guru/Host, 411 MMA Zone/411 Ground and Pound Radio Show

Stripping Nicco Montano of her flyweight title was uncalled for.

Dino Zee: FICTION I am really, really torn on this one. I hate the way the UFC has been taking belts from people lately (Ferguson and Covington), but at least the prior two were interim titles in situations where a real champion either existed or was going to exist shortly thereafter. Nicco Montaño’s inactivity since winning the title last December had to be frustrating to the UFC brass and then having her body shut down during the weight cut only made things worse between the two parties. While I don’t necessarily love that they did it, I don’t think it’s “uncalled for,” either.

If Nicco somehow made it to the scale and was overweight, she would have been stripped of the title anyways. That’s the only little shred of “logic” I have for reasoning that, while quick and slightly heartless, stripping Nicco of the Flyweight championship right. In the strictest “letter of the law” sense that I can think of. I do hope that she can bounce back from this, though.

Robert Winfree: FICTION It was harsh to be sure, but uncalled for seems a bit extreme. Montano has been inactive since winning the belt almost a year ago, now some of that was just bad luck with health issues so I’m not claiming malicious intent or anything, but that level of inactivity is never a good thing. Montano also has had struggles with the UFC from a promotion standpoint, though I’m sure both parties bear culpability, and to cap it off all of this struggle has been around a division the UFC essentially created to fill their new mandate of at least one title fight per PPV. It was a rough situation all the way around, and while I can certainly see the point that this was harsh and am sympathetic to the notion that they could have tried to re-book the fight again at least one more time, I can’t quite get to totally uncalled for.

With the flyweight strap belonging to no one, now is the perfect time for Joanna Jedrzejczyk to move up a division and try to become the first woman to win two titles in two different divisions.

Dino Zee: FACT Another one where I had a tough time deciding, because the “sports fan” in me hates the idea of someone who hasn’t competed in the division taking on someone who fought once – against a promotional newcomer – for the division’s highest prize. And that’s as a huge fan of both Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. But the “UFC fan” in me knows that those are the two biggest names that could be brought together for the vacant strap, and for a division struggling to find an identity since its inception, having these two go at it isn’t the worst thing in the world. The fight could probably be better built, sure, but as far as restoring the Flyweight title goes, this may very well be the best choice.

In the name of strict “earn your shots” competition, it’s slightly farcical. Still, it would most likely be a dynamite fight, between two top fighters.

Robert Winfree: FACT Though I don’t think she’ll be successful if she does. Jedrzejczyk should move up at this point, she’s beaten everyone at strawweight except the champion and said champion seems to have her number. She’s just wasting everyone’s time at 115 at this point and that’s never been the easiest weight cut for her to make to begin with. I don’t especially like Jedrzejczyk’s chances against Shevchenko based on their history and styles, but she should absolutely make the attempt.

Zabit Magomesharipov needs at least a fight or two within the top ten before challenging someone in the featherweight division’s top five, like Jose Aldo.

Dino Zee: FICTION Finally, something I’m sure of. Look, the hype is there, and this guy wants to do big things. So, why not let him sink or swim? He called out Chad Mendes, which I think is a great test, and Mendes sits at #5 according to the UFC. 6-10 would offer Stephens, Swanson, Emmet, Bektic, and Jung, which are all fine fights as well. But ZaBeast wants more, and I think that the UFC should oblige. If he beats Mendes decisively, they’ve got themselves a new top threat and can fast-track him to a top contender. If he loses, it’s not the worst thing in the world, he’ll take the loss as a learning experience, and we can slow the hype train down a bit with a 10-15 guy to get him back on track. But yes, give him Mendes!

Robert Winfree: FACT Easy fact here. I like Magomedsharipov and his overall game, it’s also easy to see why both hardcore and casual fans have gravitated towards him, but we really shouldn’t be rushing him that much. He’s looked great against a low level of opposition, the best fighter he’s beaten probably being Bochniak, but there are levels in opposition and there’s no sense in rushing the best prospect the division has into needlessly deep waters yet. At some point, every fighter must sink or swim with the sharks, but Magomedsharipov should still be fighting fighters in the 9-14 range give or take for at least his next bout. He against someone like Aldo or Chad Mendes would just be going at least one bridge too far, if not two or three.


Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor will be one of the most watched fights in MMA history; however, it will not reach its potential due to the lack of promotion and Conor’s extended sabbatical, among other things.

Robert Winfree: FICTION I mean, what exactly do you consider the potential for this fight? McGregor has done everything possible to embed himself in popular culture and the greater consciousness, how much extra buzz would a world tour type event actually create here? They made this fight relatively quickly and fighters need to train, the timing just didn’t quite work out and a bunch of media events might actually result in overkill rather than building properly. McGregor hasn’t fought in a while to be sure, but it’s not like he faded from public life during that time and he’s coming off of a massively viewed incident directly related to his opponent. As for the general promotion the UFC tends to be incredibly cyclical with promotional efforts and won’t really ramp up on one until the previous one is done, with UFC 228 in the past I expect we’ll see more effort put into UFC 229. Though that’s speculative on my part and in a few more weeks it might be a very salient argument.

Dino Zee: FICTION I think this fight will do just fine. I’m not sure that it’s the lock to break records that some have it pegged as, but I know it’s going to do fine. I also don’t think a lack of promotion is the issue here, as the UFC put together quite the video package for this thing. Sure, maybe we don’t have the national tour going on or anything, but the fans know what’s happening on October 6. This is certainly a huge fight, with loud fan bases looking to back their man, in a battle of Crushing Left Hand vs. Unbreakable Hug Punching. Sorry, a bit of the wrestling smark coming out of me there, but I am hyped for this fight. And I believe this fight has many different types of “potential,” so there’s plenty of ways for it to be reached.

Conor McGregor’s wrestling is being underestimated; in fact, it should surprise no one, nor Khabib Nurmagomedov, if he can keep his upcoming fight on the feet for at least the first round.

Robert Winfree: FACT Unless you’re a member of the Cult of Conor, in which case the only thing stopping him from winning a gold medal in the Olympics is his lack of amateur eligibility. McGregor’s takedown defense isn’t the best in the world but he’s certainly competent and while Nurmagomedov’s overall MMA grappling game is among the best in the sport his takedowns can be stopped. He just doesn’t care and shoots again, which presents a whole new set of problems for his opponent. I imagine McGregor will stop a few takedowns in this fight, and he’s certainly capable of winning it. That said, the other great thing about Nurmagomedov’s game is he really only needs one takedown, then he forces you back to the mat over and over again while punishing you the whole time.

Dino Zee: FICTION No, no. No one’s “sleeping on” Conor’s wrestling, as the kids say. We all know that Khabib takes down virtually everyone at will, outside of a good wrestler like Iaquinta. Conor’s wrestling is in no way, shape, or form at Iaquinta’s level. I will be absolutely surprised if he makes it out of Round 1 surviving any takedown attempts. If he keeps it standing the whole round, I’d suspect it’s more due to a fleet-footed approach, similar to the second Nate Diaz fight. But no, in my “expert” opinion, no one’s underestimating his middling wrestling, and he’s “absolutely” going to get taken down the second Khabib gets a hold of him.

Though anything can happen, Colby Covington doesn’t appear to have the toolset, game to beat Tyron Woodley.

Robert Winfree: FACT Covington’s demonstrated game revolves entirely around two things, pressure and being the superior clinch wrestler with a minor back up plan of just being in better shape. Woodley is a fantastic wrestler, loves people who close distance on him and brings significantly more power in his punches. If that fight happens, and it should, there’s a real possibility Covington just walks into that pull back counter right and winds up face down on the mat. Alternatively, they spend a lot of time clinch fighting and Woodley takes a split decision in an awful fight.

Dino Zee: FACT I tend to favor the bigger man in a fight between guys that basically do the same thing, and are both really good at it. In this case, we have two good wrestlers. Tyron is obviously stronger, with better power in his hands. He’s also fast, but Covington may have a slight edge in the speed department. But I don’t see Covington imposing his will on Woodley the way he did Maia. Woodley should be able to shake him off, and find a home for that right hand.

That said, Covington should probably still get the chance to prove everyone wrong. I mean, they gave Bisping a second fight with Rockhold after Rockhold throttled him, and we know how that turned out. But no, on paper, I don’t see how Covington beats Woodley outside of the standard puncher’s chance.

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