Dan Hardy: Conor McGregor has skillset to beat Justin Gaethje but not Charles Oliveira

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Dan Hardy thinks it’s in Conor McGregor’s benefit if Justin Gaethje captures the lightweight title at UFC 274.

Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) challenges 155-pound champion Charles Oliveira (32-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) in Saturday’s main event at Footprint Center in Phoenix and although McGregor declared that he’ll be waltzing into a welterweight title shot upon his return, he has also bounced the idea of facing Oliveira before.

McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC), a former UFC featherweight and lightweight champ, has put on some size in his injury layoff but has fought the majority of his career at 145 and 155 pounds. From a stylistic standpoint, Hardy thinks McGregor would fare much better against Gaethje than he would Oliveira.

“Does McGregor want to fight Charles Oliveira?” Hardy asked in an interview with Submission Radio. “Is it a fight that’s gonna really, really sell? Is it worth taking that fight knowing full well that most likely he’s gonna get beaten up and submitted? I think there are lots of really interesting fights for Conor McGregor, but unless something drastic has changed in the last few months while he’s been healing his leg, I don’t think he has the skillet to beat Charles Oliveira.

“I do think he has the skillset to beat Gaethje, and I think that’s a very marketable fight. Especially because they speak the same language, they can (go) back and forth. Gaethje is a funny dude. He’s not gonna back down, but he’s gonna bring brutality to the octagon, and Conor McGregor brings sharp shooting to the octagon, but he does get tired, and he does get worn down and for as long as Justin Gaethje can take those shots, Conor will be getting tired.”

Hardy thinks a Gaethje win could lure McGregor back into lightweight and that the idea of challenging UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman wouldn’t be a good idea, either.

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However, if Oliveira retains his title, Hardy has another idea for McGregor’s return fight.

“I think if Gaethje wins, you might see Conor McGregor in there,” Hardy said. “I think if Oliveira wins, I don’t think we’ll see him anywhere near that lightweight belt. Whether he wants to fight for it or not, I don’t think he’ll get it, and I don’t really think Usman is better for him either to be honest. We’ve got Tony Ferguson against Chandler, that is a banger, and if I was Conor McGregor, I’d be looking at something like that.

“It doesn’t matter who Conor McGregor is fighting. He could fight Artem Lobov in Dublin, and he would sell the arena out. It doesn’t really matter who he’s fighting. What’s most important right now is that Conor maintains his brand and stepping in there against Charles Oliveira, for as cool as it would be for him to beat him and win the belt, it’s a shot in the dark, and it could just push his brand in the combat sports world off a cliff.”

That being said, Hardy thinks Oliveira likely gets his hand raised against Gaethje.

“I’m leaning slightly towards Oliveira because he’s got a lot of technical advantages,” Hardy said. “I feel like he is gonna be able to win the striking as long as he doesn’t get hit with that big shot and take too many low kicks, but he stands high on his rear leg, so the lead leg is less vulnerable.”

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