Despite Khabib Nurmagomedov\'s \'mistake,\' Eddie Alvarez Picks Champ Over Conor McGregor

Trying to predict what’s going to happen in the UFC lightweight division is a fool’s errand these days.

But by all indications, champ Khabib Nurmagomedov will face Conor McGregor if the ex-champ cuts a deal with the UFC (and the state of New York) and returns to the octagon.

The ensuing fight should be one of the biggest in the division’s history. And if the fight goes the way ex-champ Eddie Alvarez predicts, a very large audience will tune in to see the belt stay put.

To Alvarez, the end result is inevitable: McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) won’t be able to overcome Nurmagomedov’s (26-0 MMA, 10-0 UFC) withering ground and pound attack, he told ESNewsReporting.com.

“I feel like there will be takedowns, and Conor will not get up,” Alvarez opined. “And I don’t know if he has the spirit to stay in the fight with a ground fight, where Khabib is controlling 15 to 20 minutes of a 25-minute bout. I’d have to give the edge to Khabib.”

In a familiar refrain from McGregor critics early in his UFC career, Alvarez thinks the Irish champ isn’t good enough on the ground to compete with an elite-level grappler like Nurmagomedov, who earlier this month at UFC 223 claimed the title stripped from McGregor.

“I don’t feel like he has a strong spirit for fighting on the ground,” Alvarez said. “Some guys have a real strong spirit, they could stand up all day for five, 10 rounds, as long as they’re standing up.

“But when it goes to the ground, their spirit weakens. I don’t think Conor has a strong enough spirit to withstand Khabib’s ground attack over and over and over.”

So far, no one in the UFC has been able to stop Nurmagomedov. Every octgaon opponent he’s faced has found themselves on the canvas taking punch after punch. Although lightweight Al Iaquinta was able to reject Nurmagomedov’s takedowns in his short-notice fight at UFC 223, the point deficit he accrued in early rounds made it impossible for him to win on scorecards.

However, some of the tendencies exposed in that fight give McGregor a chance to upset the Dagestan native’s unbeaten streak, Alvarez said.

“If Khabib does not correct the mistake of sitting back with his chin back and going to the side, Conor’s going to put his lights out with that left hand pretty bad, pretty quickly,” he said. “He needs to correct that mistake, and he needs to learn to relax in the pocket and know that he’s safe. Until he does that, he’s always in danger of getting beat by a guy with knockout power like Conor McGregor.”

Alvarez (29-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC), who’s waiting for his own shot against Nurmagomedov, knows well the danger of getting caught by a McGregor left hand. He took several en route to a knockout loss at UFC 205, which made McGregor the first ever dual-class champion in UFC history.

McGregor has already shown he’s not invulnerable in the octagon, especially when it comes to ground fighting. But like Nurmagomedov on the ground, he’s shown to be without compare when it comes to his striking skills.

That’s an X-factor Alvarez won’t discount.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source : https://mmajunkie.com/2018/04/eddie-alvarez-picks-khabib-nurmagomedov-over-conor-mcgregor

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