Despite UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov rolling over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 last October, the champ's coach believes that the Irishman is still Nurmagomedov's biggest threat.
Nurmagomedov took McGregor down repeatedly and wore him out leading to a fourth round submission finish. The victory moved the Russian's record to a spotless 27-0.
He has yet to return to the Octagon because of a suspension after he and McGregor were involved in altercations with each other's teammates and entourages following the fight, but is expected to do so in September. Nurmagomedov is expected to headline UFC 242 on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi, but it won't be against the fighter that his coach, Javier Mendez, deems Nurmagomedov's most dangerous opponent. He still believes that McGregor holds that slot.
“Talking about four potential rivals for Khabib, I can give my assessment from the [least] dangerous to the most dangerous,” Mendez told SportsDaily.ru recently.
“Max Holloway [would] be the easiest for Khabib. Max has good boxing, but it lacks the power [necessary in] the lightweight division. Next on the list is Dustin Poirier. He’s got stamina and versatility. Tony Ferguson is my second choice. His elbows are very dangerous. And finally, [the] number one contender for me is still Conor. His boxing is special, that’s his chance.”
It's not that Mendez believes any of those fighters are going to upset Nurmagomedov, after all, there's a reason he is 27-0 and already has a victory over McGregor. In fact, Nurmagomedov has hardly ever lost a round, let a lone a fight.
Poirier is expected to be the next fighter to get a crack at Nurmagomedov, however, when the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi. Ferguson is currently scheduled to face Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 238. McGregor remains on the sidelines, awaiting his next fight after having already completed his UFC 229 suspension.