Following UFC 257, many experts dissected the fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Poirier’s use of the low calf kick was the main factor in his success against McGregor’s long stance.
Calf kicks have been revolutionizing the MMA world for the past 3 years. Every fighter has had to implement them into his/her gameplan or plan against it. But prior to his fight against Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor had fought only twice in the past 3 years.
Considering the fact that he faced Donald Cerrone and Khabib Nurmagomedov who aren’t leg kickers, it wasn’t surprising to see him struggle to adapt against Dustin Poirier last Saturday.
Poirier’s head coach Matt Brown had noticed that weakness in McGregor’s game many years ago and was fully prepared to make him pay. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one. UFC commentator Dan Hardy had highlighted during fight week, that Poirier’s easiest path to victory was to use leg kicks.
Most recently, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s head coach Javier Mendez was interviewed by Submission Radio. Mendez said that he saw this weakness in McGregor’s game a long time ago. He also said that he dismissed it when training Khabib because the Russian isn’t much of a leg kicker.
” Yeah of course but Khabib’s not a leg kicker so it wouldn’t have done us any good to look into that. Mendez said, “But yes I’ve always noticed that, because he’s (McGregor) got a karate stance. A boxing karate-like stance, it’s not good for Thai Boxing.”
Mendez was a decent kickboxer in his youth and is a very good striking coach. He has made AKA the best gym in the U.S for grapplers who want to learn how to strike and expand their game (Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Fitch…).
He then went on to talk about how a second fight between Khabib and McGregor would’ve looked like.
“He (McGregor) would’ve got smashed, Khabib got better. He’s better than he was two years ago when they fought. Conor doesn’t appear to be better, he’s regressed a little bit, Khabib got way better. He would’ve got smashed.”
Mendez also talked about Khabib’s future:
‘Khabib gotta ask his mothers persmission first, you remember the key thing. I didn’t see that GSP being offered and i thought the only way he was gonna come out if GSP (Georges St-Pierre) was their in picture but based on what happened i see why he would want to come out and fight anybody that’s not gonna motivate him. He’s not looking at money aspect but if they get him GSP and put GSP on table so there is a chance there. Because That’s what his father wanted too.”
On being asked if Conor and Khabib’s rematch saga is over after McGregor’s disappointing UFC 257 performance, Mendez said:
“You’re never gonna get that rematch,” Mendez said. “Just like you’re never gonna get the Tony and Khabib fight. That’s never gonna happen either. It’s not gonna happen. I mean, Khabib doesn’t need it. He seems fulfilled. And like I said, I think the only juicy part for him is what his father wanted, GSP. I’ve said it many times. And who knows, maybe that’s out of the question now. Maybe GSP doesn’t want it, maybe Khabib don’t want it now. I don’t know, because I never talked to Khabib about what he wants, I’ve always listened to him.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov criticized McGregor after his loss to Dustin Poirier. McGregor fired back at him and told him to fight him again if he wants to talk like that. It seems as though the feud between the two fighters hasn’t been squashed. But as Javier Mendez said, a second fight would probably turn to the advantage of Nurmagomedov pretty quickly.