Conor McGregor is no stranger to making fight predictions.
The former two-division UFC champion earned the nickname “Mystic Mac” during his early days in the promotion for his brash but often eerily prescient predictions for his contests. Now, following a two-year layoff from mixed martial arts, McGregor is back once again for UFC 229, where he will attempt to recapture his lightweight belt in a blockbuster matchup against undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. And all that time away certainly didn’t deter McGregor’s willingness to call his shot for Oct. 6 at UFC 229.
“Domination,” McGregor said Thursday at a press conference in New York. “His head bouncing off the canvas. All his pony talk is going to be f*cking put on blast October 6th.”
Asked to call the round he’d defeat Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, McGregor said he believes the fight would end in the opening minutes, but he is readying for any situation that arises.
“As long as it takes,” McGregor said. “I believe, one [round]. He has a glass jaw. The Chechens, my Chechen friends, the soldiers, they told me that they had chicken jaws in Dagestan — and I believe them, because I know a glass jaw when I see one, and I’ve seen this man wobble many times. I’ve seen his brother sparked unconscious in another promotion. I know he is afraid of a smack, and if you’re afraid of a smack off me, a smack will feel like a double-barrel shotgun. So, I believe inside the first, but I have been wrong before. I will be prepared for five rounds. You’re looking at a fighting veteran. I’ve come through it all, I’ve been through it all. I’ve been on both sides of the world.
“I’ve been on the boxing side and I’ve been on this side. I’m ready for any occurrence, but this man is a glass-jawed bum, and I’m going to shatter him — like that [bus] glass was shattered, may God have mercy on its soul — on October 6th.”
That prediction didn’t sit well with Nurmagomedov.
A sambo specialist and grappling savant, Nurmagomedov won the UFC lightweight title earlier this year at UFC 223 following a chaotic week in Brooklyn that saw McGregor attack the fighter bus carrying Nurmagomedov and his team. McGregor and Nurmagomedov referenced the incident numerous times throughout the UFC 229 press conference, with both men insulting the other for how they handled the situation. But now the chance for revenge is at last in front of Nurmagomedov, and he promised to exploit an area of the game that many believe to be McGregor’s biggest weakness: His wrestling defense.
“You have to fight only [boxing] because you cannot compete with high-level guys who have wrestling,” Nurmagomedov said. “You fight with small guys in featherweight division, and these guys who have wrestling, they give you a lot of problems. What are you talking about? Your wrestling is zero. Your grappling is zero. I’m gonna maul you.”
“So let’s wrestle, kid,” McGregor responded.
“Let’s wrestle. Sixth of October, let’s wrestle,” Nurmagomedov said.
“Let’s wrestle. Yeah, you hope, mate. You’re going to be wrestling my knuckle out of your orbital bone,” McGregor shot back.
“After this fight, you’re going to go back to boxing,” Nurmagomedov replied.
McGregor’s return at UFC 229 marks the first mixed martial arts contest for the Irishman since his title-winning Nov. 2016 performance over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. In the time between, McGregor made his professional boxing debut in August 2017 in an extremely lucrative match against Floyd Mayweather. McGregor ultimately gassed out and lost to Mayweather via 10th round TKO — and Nurmagomedov promised to ensure McGregor’s gas tank hits empty once more at UFC 229.
“I think I’m going to make him tired, and after, play with him,” Nurmagomedov said. “Because when he’s tired, he always give up. He moved to [boxing] and he tapped there. … You’ve tapped four times. You’ve tapped four times. You tap like chicken.”
“So what? I’ll tap your head off the canvas, kid,” McGregor shot back.
Ultimately, the question of how McGregor deals with his two biggest weaknesses at UFC 229 — wrestling and cardio — will likely define how his showdown with Nurmagomedov goes. McGregor seemed to be aware of that, too. When pressed on his preparation for Nurmagomedov’s wrestling acumen, McGregor ensured that he is ready for whatever the UFC lightweight champion throws at him next month in Las Vegas.
“I am very, very well coached,” McGregor said. “My coaching team, coach John Kavanagh, he has coached me very well. We are ready for this. My wrestling coach Sergey Pikulskiy, my striking coaches, my conditioning coaches under the McGregor Fast Program, we are ready here. We are ready for war. We are ready for all outcomes, all situations, all scenarios. Supreme, supreme confidence you are looking at here, so we’re going to go out and enjoy this contest on October 6th, because again, that’s all I’m doing it for. Because I f*cking love it. Don’t have to do it otherwise. It’s just because I love it. That’s it.”
“You really think you’re going to enjoy with me?” asked Nurmagomedov.
“I’m going to love it,” McGregor replied.