When Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov step into the cage together at UFC 229, most fans expect one of two things to happen. The expectation is that McGregor will either knock Nurmagomedov out, our Nurmagomedov will drag McGregor into a grappling hell and possibly stop him on the mat. This feeling, of course, hinges on the perception that Nurmagomedov is not much of a striker, and McGregor is not much of a grappler.
While Conor McGregor’s chief training partner Artem Lobov agrees that Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t present much danger in the striking department, he feels its erroneous to assume that McGregor can’t grapple with the lightweight champion.
“When you say it like that, it’s as if Conor doesn’t have wrestling and grappling, and Khabib doesn’t have any striking,” Artem Lobov told The Mac Life this week (transcript via Bloody Elbow). “It is true that Khabib doesn’t really have any striking, but it’s certainly not true that Conor’s grappling or wrestling is not on that level.
“He can easily out-grapple Khabib, and in the wrestling as well. Of course this is Khabib’s game, so we’re not stupid. We’re not gonna fall into his hands right away, but make no mistake about it, we’re gonna be ready everywhere.”
Artem Lobov also offered a specific prediction for this Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor fight. He expects his friend and training partner to win in the first round.
“I see Conor stopping him in round one,” Artem Lobov stated confidently. “I just don’t see Khabib being able to do anything.”
“Look at some of his other fights [Khabib has] been in. The [Al] Iaquinta fight, when he was connecting, Khabib did not like it at all. He was going back, leaning back, turning away, closing his eyes.”
“The same against Michael Johnson. When Michael Johnson connected, Khabib couldn’t take him down anymore. The only reason they ended up on the floor was because Michael Johnson decided to wrap up the guillotine and bring him down himself — which was the biggest mistake of his life. I’m sure he still regrets that. Either than that, he had stuffed Khabib’s takedowns already.”
“So I see all that, I see Conor in training. I see his timing, I know his wrestling, how good his grappling as well. I just don’t see it any other way. First round stoppage for Conor McGregor.”
What do you think of Artem Lobov’s assessment of UFC 229’s Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor main event?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/24/2018.