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19th Sep 2018

Training partner believes one of Conor McGregor’s biggest strengths won’t work on Khabib

Patrick McCarry

Khabib prediction

The games are about to begin.

On Thursday, at Radio City Hall in New York, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov will meet for the first time since the Brooklyn bus attack, back in April.

The pair will be the primary focus at two press conferences over the next fortnight before stepping into The Octagon together to fight for the UFC lightweight belt.

On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, UFC analyst, and former fighter, Dan Hardy told host Luke Thomas that he keeps reaching the same conclusion.

“Conor loses the first two rounds,” he said. “He gets taken down, he gets beaten up, he gets bloodied.

“Khabib shows dominance; he’s talking to him. It’s going to be an entertaining couple of rounds with Conor being down on the scorecards, 10-9, maybe even 10-8. Then, in the third, Khabib starts marching forward, like he has done in the first and second,  and Conor is able to use his superior foot-work and walks Khabib onto a left hand.”

Most McGregor fans would take that uncomfortable viewing if it ultimately led to the Dubliner reclaiming his lightweight crown. Abu Azaitar can see a similar scenario playing out, only without the glorious KO comeback at the end.

Credit: Abu Azaitar (Facebook)

Azaitar, who often trains with ‘The Eagle’, made his UFC debut back in July – at Fight Night:Hamburg – and improved his career record to 14-0-1 with a decision win over Vitor Miranda.

The Moroccan middleweight was asked for his prediction on the UFC 229 main event and commented:

“Khabib is my brother; he is a really good person, and fighter. His wrestling is on a different level, as his the pressure he puts [on opponents] and his conditioning. That is why I respect him so much.

“I’ve trained and fought with a lot of different fighters but, with him, you feel he is at a different level. That is why I feel this fight had to happen. The whole drama in Brooklyn, with the bus and people being cut… it’s time to stop the talking and bring these two guys together.

“It’s going to be a good fight because McGregor is such a good fighter and is so dangerous… Everyone will have their game-plan but I don’t think McGregor can win because he won’t be able to get inside the head of Khabib. Khabib is also very, very strong mentally.”

McGregor has had the advantage of getting under the skin of most opponents by winning the mind-games war.

In an interview with Flo Combat, last year, Dustin Poirier spoke about his fight with Conor McGregor and how The Notorious’ mind games really affected him in the build-up to the fight.

“I’ve always been an emotional fighter and that emotion fueled a lot of my early performances,” Poirier said.

“I would get angry because I’m about to step in there and go toe-to-toe with someone who is trying to hurt me just like I intend to hurt them, and that energy shifts gears into that kill or be killed mindset.

“I always saw it as a plus but the Conor [McGregor] fight was the turning point. I remember I was backstage getting ready to walk out and I saw him and he threw this smile and pointed at me. I don’t know why but it really got to me, man. It really messed with my head. I mean I’m about to go out and fight this dude and he’s back there smiling at me? After that fight, I knew I had to find a different way to use my emotion.”

Thursday’s press conference will hopefully offer the first signs on McGregor’s strategy heading into the fight but, rest assured, he will definitely try to plant some seeds of doubt in the champion’s mind.