With Khabib Nurmagomedov winning the UFC’s lightweight belt earlier this month following his decision win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223, there has been a lot of talk about who will be next in line for the Russian.
Former champion Conor McGregor is the fight that most MMA fans would like to see, provided the UFC can convince the controversial Irishman to step back into the octagon.
Who would win a fight between two fighters of very different styles remains open for debate, although one person who knows both men well says he reckons he knows who would win.
Eddie Alvarez, who lost to McGregor in the Notorious’ last appearance in the UFC, and has already thrown his hat into the ring as a possible opponent for the newly crowned champion, says he would pick the Russian, as Nurmagomedov’s strong ground game would prove too much for the former champ.
“I feel like there will be takedowns, and Conor will not get up,” Alvarez said. “And I don’t know if he has the spirit to stay in the fight with a ground fight, where Khabib is controlling 15 to 20 minutes of a 25-minute bout. I’d have to give the edge to Khabib.”
Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier, Kevin Lee…. Who in the world fights @TeamKhabib next?
— Chris Taylor (@CTaylor_96) April 22, 2018
Alvarez added that the Irishman just doesn’t have the necessary will required to rebuff the Russian’s formidable wrestling skills.
“I don’t feel like he has a strong spirit for fighting on the ground,” Alvarez said. “Some guys have a real strong spirit, they could stand up all day for five, 10 rounds, as long as they’re standing up.
“But when it goes to the ground, their spirit weakens. I don’t think Conor has a strong enough spirit to withstand Khabib’s ground attack over and over and over.”
The Irishman’s former foe added that despite his superior strength, the Russian champ would still need to stay away from McGregor’s lightning fast punching.
“If Khabib does not correct the mistake of sitting back with his chin back and going to the side, Conor’s going to put his lights out with that left hand pretty bad, pretty quickly,” he said. “He needs to correct that mistake, and he needs to learn to relax in the pocket and know that he’s safe. Until he does that, he’s always in danger of getting beat by a guy with knockout power like Conor McGregor.”
And while Alvarez was complimentary about the Russian’s fighting skills, he was not too happy with the chaotic lead up to UFC 223 that saw Iaquinta end up fighting Nurmagomedov after Tony Ferguson pulled out injured and Max Holloway was ruled ineligible, accusing the UFC of practically giving the Russian the belt.
“You know what no one’s talking about? Khabib talked about fake champions, fake belts. Fake this, fake that, and everything is fake, fake, fake,” Alvarez said.
“No one said that they were just begging to give him that belt because they had Russia behind him. Russia is going to be an open market soon, and it’s convenient Khabib has the belt.
“Now the guy who says ‘fake champion, fake belt, fake this,’ he has the title now.
“They should have just handed it to him, to be honest with you. That’s what it looks like,” he added.