Nurmagomedov Faces His Toughest Challenge Yet At UFC 229
1. Get The Fight To The Ground
Khabib Nurmagomedov is and always will be a grappler. Unfortunately for him, every round starts on the feet. He will need to close the distance against longer McGregor who holds a four-inch reach advantage over Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov (28-0) has some of the best wrestling in the UFC and shouldn’t be afraid to show it off Saturday night. An excellent example of how he uses his grappling against an elite striker would be his unanimous decision victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 219 that can be seen below via the UFC’s YouTube page.
2. Do Not Try And Trade With McGregor
In Nurmagomedov’s last fight which was against Al Iaquinta, he showed off his striking skills against Iaquinta. It was clear Nurmagomedov’s striking wasn’t his strong suit.
If he tries to stand and trade with McGregor, it will be a short night for Nurmagomedov. He needs to stick to what he’s good at and, like listed above, get the fight to the ground.
3. Do Not Give Into McGregor’s Mind Games
If there is one thing that McGregor is good at, besides fighting, it’s trash talking. He does this for a number of reasons.
Not only does it get people interested in watching him fight but he also does it to get in the mind of his opponents. He talks to show off his confidence and to get his opponents to stand and trade with him, something he is better than with almost anyone who gets in the octagon with him.
McGregor can make grapplers want to be strikers. He did it with Eddie Alvarez and Chad Mendes and he can do it with Nurmagomedov as well. Nurmagomedov has to just block out everything McGregor is saying and stick to his gameplan.
4. Come Into The Fight At A Healthy Weight
One knock against Nurmagomedov, besides getting injured and being forced to pull from his fights, is his poor weight cutting. Nurmagomedov did have success cutting weight and making weight in his last fight at UFC 223.
But at UFC 209, he was forced to pull from his fight on the week of the fight because of poor weight cutting. He has also missed weight at UFC 160.
The better the weight cut, the more energy Nurmagomedov will have on Saturday night for the biggest fight of his career. This is a fight where he may go into the championship rounds for only the second time in his career, so he will need plenty of energy.
5. Use His Ground And Pound To Set Up Submissions
Once Nurmagomedov gets the fight to the ground, he does an excellent job of landing some vicious ground and pound. He can make guys quit and have a look of desperation. A perfect example of him using his ground and pound to set up a submission would be in his fight against Michael Johnson at UFC 205 that can be seen below via the UFC’s YouTube page.
All three of McGregor’s losses come via submission. If he is being hit with ground and pound, he would rather look for a way out like getting submitted than getting finished due to strikes. He did this against Nate Diaz at UFC 196 when he lost due to a second round rear-naked choke.
If Nurmagomedov can put all these pieces together, he should be able to get the victory over McGregor and defend his lightweight championship for the first time and keep his perfect record intact.