While Jon Jones is still on the sidelines awaiting the final adjudication of his latest UFC Anti-Doping Violation, he's got a little time on his hands.
In a recent interview, he weighed in on the return of Conor McGregor, who will challenge undefeated, undisputed UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC 229 main event on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas.
Most people believe that Nurmagomedov's wrestling will be far superior to that of McGregor, posing a serious threat. Jones agrees with that assessment, but not to the degree of many pundits.
”I believe that Conor McGregor has wrestling,” said Jones. “I don’t think it’s at the level of Khabib. I believe that Khabib will get the majority of his takedowns that he goes for. Conor, he’s an athlete. He shouldn’t be underestimated.”
One of the main drawbacks for Nurmagomedov, as Jones sees it, is his lack of jiu-jitsu. Nurmagomedov has been training his wrestling almost since the day he could walk, making him one of the most proficient takedown artists in the cage.
”I think Khabib, his boxing defense isn’t the strongest. I don’t understand why he doesn’t work a lot of jiu jitsu,” explained Jones. “If you can take down anybody, why not know how to finish them? He depends on ground-and-pound and he never finishes anyone with that. Khabib is a black-belt wrestler. If he adds a black belt in jiu jitsu to his recipe, he’d be extremely scary.”
Nurmagomedov's coach has admitted that his fighter's boxing is never going to be up to par with McGregor's, but thinks the mental aspect of his game will carry him through. Not only that, despite Jones' assessment of the Dagestani fighter's jiu-jitsu, Nurmagomedov does have several submission wins to his credit, including finishes of Kamal Shalorus and Michael Johnson under the UFC banner.