Is the Conor-Khabib Fight Next?
Maybe. But not as soon as fans have hoped. Conor’s arrest from his insane dolly throwing-bus incident completely derailed a likely September super fight in Russia, leaving the newly crowned UFC Lightweight Champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov in limbo. The state of New York set a court date for June 17 leaving Conor with a short 8-week training camp, which includes time spent on media obligations to promote the fight. You may think 8-weeks is doable, but despite McGregor’s high profile name, you’re forgetting he hasn’t had an MMA fight since November 2016 and he hasn’t competed against a world-class grappler since his fight with Chad Mendez in 2015. In that fight, he was taken down and kept on his back for the first round and a half, until an “off the couch” Mendez tired out and was KO’d. That fight actually took place in the 145lb division, not at McGregor’s current 155, and not against a guy who walks around at over 180lbs like Khabib, who is probably the best grappler in the UFC. In order for Conor to be prepared for such a superior grappler, he needs a longer camp.
Khabib recently released a statement declaring he wants to fight in November or December this year. This gives Conor more time to train, but the consequences from his bus debacle has him facing possible civil lawsuits from the UFC fighters that were on the bus. Lightweight contender Michael Chiesa suffered lacerations on his face from glass shattered by the thrown dolly, while Flyweight fighter Ray Borg suffered eye injuries. Chiesa already filed a police report against McGregor, which will be useful ammunition to his civil case. The sustained injuries by both fighters prohibited them from competing in their scheduled bouts in New York. Despite Conor’s arrest and legal battles, don’t think for a second that the UFC doesn’t want to be involved with the notorious Conor McGregor. They featured video of the bus incident in their web series “Embedded” and UFC President Dana White has softened his stance on McGregor through his public statements. Bad press is still press and Conor is still a household name, so the UFC will still capitalize on his fame and publicity from the incident.
So where does that leave Khabib? There are other fights to make at 155, but if Khabib takes on another fight and loses, the hyped up Conor-Khabib fight will definitely lose its appeal. Simply put, the UFC can’t risk it. With the UFC lacking Pay-per-view stars, they know the Conor-Khabib fight is their next big thing. Former PPV stars Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesner are working with WWE and former Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is still fighting a suspension for PEDs. The UFC knows that this is the biggest fight they can make for this year and they are posturing the fighters to make it happen. Interestingly enough, the UFC has announced an event in Las Vegas on December 29th. Could this date be it?