Long-time AKA coaching stalwart Javier Mendez believes there is little chance of him properly preparing his fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov for Conor McGregor’s striking ahead of their lightweight title fight at UFC 229.
Nurmagomedov is set to make the first defence of his UFC lightweight championship against bitter rival and former concurrent UFC featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas on October 6th.
Speaking with Peter Carroll on MMA Fighting’s new Eurobash podcast, Mendez indicates that Nurmagomedov will likely be focusing on his wrestling bread and butter when he finally faces McGregor in the Octagon.
“There’s no amount of time that we have that’s going to help us to try and get him to stand up,” Mendez said of training Khabib for McGregor [H/T MMA Fighting]. “There’s no way possible. So, I’m not gonna say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re gonna get him ready’… come on…wake up…it ain’t gonna work.”
“We have to fight our strengths, we have to find ways of opening the doors to where his weaknesses are and likewise. This is basically the classic grappler versus striker fight. Keep in mind that they can both grapple and they can both strike, it’s just one is better than the other at (each discipline).
“We’re the better grappler, he’s the better striker, but that doesn’t mean we won’t strike, it just means he’s better. It’s about who plays whose game.”
Mendez went on to pay tribute to McGregor’s position as one of the best strikers the UFC has ever seen.
“He’s a master, in my opinion, on the fighting arts. And he’s also got a ground game — he’s good everywhere. I’m not sleeping on how great he is. I’m prepared for everything, but he is a great fighter.”
It’s rare to hear such a top-level coach open up so honestly about one of his own fighters and their potential gameplan – especially ahead of such a high-profile fight.
But could it be some gamesmanship from the wily coach, lulling McGregor’s camp into thinking Nurmagomedov will be solely focused on taking the fight from the clinch to the floor?
We can’t wait to find out come October 6th.