UFC megastar Conor McGregor and undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov finally met face to face at a press conference in New York recently. The conference was in promotion for their upcoming title fight at UFC 229, which takes place live on pay-per-view Oct. 6.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, AKA head coach and coach to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Javier Mendez went into detail about Nurmagomedov’s preparation for the conference and actually commended Conor McGregor for his antics at the press conference.
“I said, ‘Look, he’s gonna play with you, he’s gonna hit every button, he’s gonna hit religion, politics, family. You can’t let it affect you.’ That’s [McGregor’s] game, that’s what he does, and he’s a master at that — I wish he wouldn’t do it, but that’s who he is.”
“We’ve talked about it for months now that this is what was gonna happen. So when it did happen, he was prepared for that. I said, ‘If you’re not gonna fight back with him, then stay relaxed, stay calm, and just smile at him. If you’re gonna do anything, do that. Don’t fight with him.’
“That’s not Khabib’s style, so let’s not go there. That’s why there was no confrontation; people might have expected Khabib to come back at him. He was just like, ‘Hey, if he’s gonna not let me talk, I’ll just be quiet.’”
“Khabib wasn’t rattled at all. Slightly agitated, yes — I don’t know how anybody in their right mind cannot be agitated by a master craftsman like that guy. He comes at you with everything, and he hits you with everything. If you’re not slightly agitated by that, then you’re not human.
“He had to have been slightly agitated, but it didn’t work. Who won the staredown? Who won the talking? Conor did the talking, so he won that. But overall, Khabib won (the press conference).”
“If you win the outside war, you’re going in with the right frame of mind in the inside war,” Mendez said. “That’s why Conor plays that game, that’s why he does so well at it. Conor’s a master at that. He knows if you win the outside war, you got the advantage going inside that cage. He doesn’t have the advantage going into this cage. He does not, because he didn’t win it yet. He’s losing the outside game.”