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Conor McGregor: Conditioning shouldn't be factor vs Khabib

Lee Cleveland Updated
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MMA pro Alexander Gustafsson recently asked on Joe Rogan's radio show: "Does he [Conor McGregor] have the conditioning for Khabib?"

(Image courtesy of Sherdog)

Tonight, MMA star Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon for the first time in nearly two years to face UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.  Conor, of course, never lost that title in the Octagon but was stripped for inactivity.

Bettors and most experts predict Khabib will win - and for good reason. He's 26-0, has shown few flaws and has been more active than Conor the last two years. Moreover, there are more ways for him to win. While McGregor specializes in strikes, Khabib is master of the ground and grappling games.

Others favor Khabib for the intangibles. They believe Conor's stardom and all the money he made fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match last year has inflated an already massive ego. Simply put, some say McGregor isn't hungry enough anymore. 

And given conditioning has been an issue for Conor in the past, some surmise stamina certainly won't be to his advantage against Khabib, a pressure fighter who'll likely make Conor work.

Will conditioning be an issue for Conor McGregor tonight?

For starters, it may be a moot item. If there's an early then stoppage stamina will not have played a role. However, if this fight gets past 2 rounds, don't expect McGregor to wilt so soon.

The one big intangible no one is taking into account is money.

Yes, Conor's money.

Conor McGregor, if focused and disciplined, certainly has the financial resources to have made conditioning improvements a focus during training camp. 

It happens in boxing all of the time. When a fighter becomes very wealthy, he tends to get even better because the best nutritionists, fitness experts, sparring partners and training facilities are at his disposal.

No, money is not a replacement for hard work. However, those elements can certainly make a difference and serve as an advantage if the wealthier fighter is 1000 percent dedicated and is willing to his pay for the resources available to him. 

On the other hand, if McGregor hasn't invested a little extra to improve his cardio, who knows if conditioning will be a problem?

Second, no matter how good a fighter's conditioning is, if he over exerts himself early his stamina will be sapped until gets his second wind. So, unless he badly hurts Khabib early, look for Conor to have a gameplan and use it to pace himself a la the Nate Diaz rematch. And if McGregor works his gameplan effectively and dictates the fight's pace early on, it'll be to his advantage.

Conor is most dangerous early while Khabib starts a little slow. Conventional widom says the longer the fight, the better Khabib's chances to win are. And that may be true. However, if Conor fights intelligently early, piles up points via strikes and waits for KO opportunities instead of trying to create them, expect him to still be dangerous in the latter rounds if he’s used his resources to good effect.

If Khabib wins, Conor's stamina (or lack thereof) shouldn't be a reason.

Prediction: McGregor outpoints Khabib, wins by close decision


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