Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated late-replacement Al Iaquinta via decision to become the new UFC lightweight champion in the main event of UFC 223 pay-per-view (PPV) on (April 7, 2018).
UFC commentator Joe Rogan spoke the truth and acknowledged Khabib Nurmagomedov’s grappling dominance, but noted his striking skills isn’t at an elite level as opposed to other top fighters in the division and leaned in the direction of Iaquinta and simultaneously disparaged the skill of Nurmagomedov.
In the wake of backlash, Joe Rogan offered an apology via social media post earlier this week.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on recent episode of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting), Khabib Nurmagomedov’s head coach Javier Mendez was very critical of UFC analyst Joe Rogan:
“I saw the fight last night with Joe Rogan [commentating] and he totally didn’t understand what the hell’s going on,” Mendez said Monday on The MMA Hour, “because he totally based that thing completely wrong. ‘Oh, he exposed Khabib. There’s a lot of holes in his game.’ There’s no holes in his game. He’s never been a stand-up guy, yet he’s gotten better, and if you don’t acknowledge how much better he’s gotten compared to the last time, then you’re not really doing your research. Because he switched southpaw on this guy, he even did a goddamn back kick, for God’s sake.
“He’s improving all the time and you need to acknowledge that. Don’t act like he’s got these holes in his game. Jesus Christ, do you think if he’s going to fight Nate Diaz, we’re going to stand with Nate Diaz? Do you think we have a chance [standing] against Nate Diaz? Do you think I think that? For God’s sake, no way. No way in hell are we going to fight with Conor [McGregor]’s stand-up too. Everybody’s got a different gameplan, and if you don’t change the gameplan according to what’s going on, you’re going to get checkmated.”
Khabib’s coach couldn’t help his frustration at Joe Rogan’s commentary but said it wasn’t necessary to announce apologies.
“I love Rogan, but yeah, if he’s apologized, he shouldn’t,” Mendez said. “He doesn’t need to apologize. Hey, that guy’s fantastic in my eyes. He says something, it causes controversy.
“So for me, he doesn’t need to apologize. But I’m sure he’s probably getting a lot of hate mail, because, I mean, when you think about it — right? — you call [a fight for] this guy [and say] he’s open [to getting hit], open… but yet he out-struck a guy that, before this, you would’ve thought he’d never out-strike.”
After the victory, Nurmagomedov stayed perfect 26-0 is one of the most feared wrestlers in the sport but has never been known for his scintillating stand-up abilities.
Did you agree with the cage-side commentator Rogan’s analysis during the fight?