Speaking at an event in Ukraine, Conor McGregor said that heated rival Khabib Nurmagomedov would likely defeat Tony Ferguson amid rumors of an early 2020 title fight between the two top-ranked UFC lightweights.
McGregor suffered a fourth-round submission defeat to?”The Eagle”?a year ago and, while he maintains that he has the necessary tools to hand Nurmagomedov his first defeat, he says that he doesn’t think that Ferguson is equally equipped.
UFC boss Dana White is understood to be considering March for what would be the FIFTH time that their matchmakers have attempted to place the two fighters in the octagon with one another. The four previous bookings fell apart for a variety of injury and weight-cut reasons.
“It’ll be an interesting one, I think Khabib would probably beat him,” McGregor said to the media in Kiev as part of public engagement on behalf of online sports betting outfit Parimatch.
“Again, you?ve got to see what the circumstances are. Anyone can win on any given day. Tony is a formidable fighter. Also, he?s very, very, tough. He does go down. He does get dropped. His guard has been passed. He’s been mounted by a lesser fighter. So I would favor Khabib in that bout.”
Despite backing Nurmagomedov in his next bout, McGregor also outlined the shift in his own strategy which he says would be necessary to win back the UFC lightweight championship if and when the two superstar fighters ever meet again.
“I believe we overestimated his grappling severely,” McGregor said.
“And we also underestimated his striking. So there are things we will correct. I will go on the offensive from a grappling standpoint. I believe I was winning the clinch exchanges in round three in the bout.
“But it was a little too late, a little too little, too late in the bout. And also my lack of commitment and, you know, I wasn?t as fully committed as I should be carrying injuries and whatnot. So there?s many things we can improve and sharpen up when the rematch happens.”
McGregor’s return to the octagon is also expected early next year, with names like Justin Gaethje and Frankie Edgar linked as potential next opponents for the Irish star.