After months of anticipation, the UFC 229 press conference finally took place on Thursday. The fans of the MMA community got what they expected, as both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor had choice words for the other. The public was not permitted into the press conference itself, reportedly due to “security reasoning”.
Conor McGregor interrupts Khabib Nurmagomedov to go OFF about the incident where McGregor threw a dolly through a bus window.
— ESPN (@espn) September 21, 2018
However, the tension was not lost by any means. McGregor utilized his typical antics that we have witnessed in past press conferences, while Nurmagomedov remained calm for the most part. The upcoming bout on October 6th may seem like just another stacked UFC card, but this is a legacy fight nonetheless. In theory, both Nurmagomedov and McGregor have a lot to gain, as well as a lot to lose.
What is there to gain for Khabib Nurmagomedov?
Maintaining a winning streak within MMA is difficult, but 26 consecutive victories is seemingly unheard of. Some of the greatest UFC fighters of all time have defeats on their record, and some even have double-digit losses.
As for Nurmagomedov, he has 10 consecutive victories within the UFC, including 2 submissions and 2 KO/TKO’s. Within his track record, “The Eagle” holds wins over powerhouse names such as Edson Barboza and Rafael Dos Anjos. In addition, Nurmagomedov has never lost a round in his UFC career, which makes him one of the most dangerous threats in the industry.
While Nurmagomedov has an impressive track record, holding a win over a name such as Conor McGregor would catapult his legacy. Advancing to 27-0 would be special, and while McGregor hasn’t been in the octagon for a lengthy period of time, a win such as this gives Nurmagomedov a case to being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the Lightweight division.
What is there to lose?
While Conor McGregor hasn’t been in the octagon since UFC 205, he is still the most dangerous striker in the industry. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a pure wrestler, but what if he doesn’t get a chance to bring the fight to the ground?
The last two fights for Nurmagomedov have been unimpressive, both awarded by unanimous decision victories. If by some chance Nurmagomedov loses to McGregor on October 6th, the argument will suddenly become that he can’t beat the household names. The matchup between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has yet to be seen, and a loss to McGregor would mean that Nurmagomedov has yet to be two of the best in the division.
A record of 26-0 is impressive, but Nurmagomedov needs a victory in order to consider his championship reign a success. Through defeat, the public will criticize Nurmagomedov’s ability to finish what he starts.
What is there to gain for Conor McGregor?
As stated in the press conference on Thursday, money is no longer a factor for Conor McGregor to fight anymore. With “Proper Twelve” Irish whiskey as the newest sponsor of the UFC, McGregor has enough fortune to last a lifetime.
With that, the motivation behind this bout is completely personal for the two-time UFC Champion. Based on the dramatics between Nurmagomedov and McGregor over the last year, it’s understandable as to why this fight needed to be secured.
While McGregor is often criticized for his lack of opponent talent, a victory over Nurmagomedov would silence almost every critic on the planet. Aside from Tony Ferguson, McGregor has defeated the top talent in multiple divisions. If he is able to finish Nurmagomedov via KO, I’m not sure anyone else can be considered the most dangerous striker in the UFC, regardless of weight class.
What is there to lose?
After suffering defeat to Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring, there is a lot at stake for Conor McGregor on October 6th. While the expectations were low for his boxing debut, his “Mystic Mac” approach in press conferences will be close to meaningless with a loss against Nurmagomedov.
With an additional loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 and a majority-decision victory in a rematch at UFC 202, McGregor is risking the attribute of being inconsistent as of late. While his talent can not be taken away by any means, this is arguably McGregor’s most difficult matchup. Looking back on UFC 189 against Chad Mendes, McGregor obviously struggles with wrestling and remaining energized in the later rounds.
With a loss, Nurmagomedov may pass McGregor on the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, and will likely be forced to face Tony Ferguson en route to another championship opportunity against Nurmagomedov.