Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold trains with UFC lightweight titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov and knows better than most what “The Eagle” brings to the table.
Nurmagomedov puts his undefeated record and title on the line in the UFC 229 main event on Oct. 6 against former two-division champion Conor McGregor in what’s being billed as the biggest lightweight bout in the promotion’s history.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor recently appeared at a press conference in New York City promoting the event and the differences in their personalities couldn’t have been more obvious. McGregor was unhinged, while Nurmagomedov remained composed. McGregor has been able to get inside the heads of his opponents in the past, but Nurmagomedov isn’t like the others.
“I watched a bit of it on my drive to practice. It is what it is. I think there’s obviously somewhat of a communication barrier, but Khabib gets his point across. He’s composed. You can see his demeanor. I know where he’s at. Conor is Conor. He’s selling it, man. He’s on the brink of insanity and it’s f—ing awesome,” Rockhold said during an appearance on Submission Radio.
“But you know, this is a different kind of fight, and we’ll see what’s up, man. They’re both dangerous in their own realms, but I like Khabib and where he’s coming from and how he can attack this fight. So, I’m excited to see it,” Rockhold added.
McGregor unleashed a tirade of insults at Nurmagomedov. He attacked Nurmagomedov’s family, his manager, his loyalty to his country, but Nurmagomedov seemed unfazed.
“Khabib’s a pretty smooth character. He doesn’t really let a lot affect him. I think you all can see that. Conor always does his homework, he always does his s–t, and he’s always gonna be himself, but the man can fight. He can not only talk, he does fight. And he is precise; he is dangerous. And we all know Khabib can do his thing. He’s 26-0 now. I mean, that’s an unheard of thing. The guy’s never lost. Conor’s lost multiple times,” said Rockhold.
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“Khabib is dangerous. Anybody can lose, but we’ll see what happens. If Khabib gets a hold of him, it’s a different world. You can’t tussle with somebody who’s grappled like that his whole life. I’ve grappled with a lot of 155-pounders in the world and not one, not one can give me the go that Khabib has,” said the former middleweight champion.
Nurmagomedov’s grappling ability is unmatched in the 155-pound weight class. He’s been able to dominate his opponents on the ground. His relentless pressure is a large part of why he’s been able to remain unbeaten for a decade.
“Khabib is, he’s up there, man. He obviously doesn’t have the exact size of me as a bigger middleweight, but he is strong as an ox, he doesn’t give up,” said Rockhold. “The kid, he’s relentless and he won’t give up. I mean, I play with 155-pounders. Khabib is a real go and there’s absolutely no quit in him. He will go to the bitter end. He will go to his death. He has to. I’ve taken him as far as I can ever believe and he just keeps coming. The guy does not, he will not tap to anything. He’s a true fighter.”