I don’t think I’ve been this interested in an MMA fight since Jon Jones beat* Daniel Cormier last summer at UFC 214.
There have been some great bouts since (Miocic/Ngannou and Whittaker/Romero 2 come to mind), but in terms of star power and overall draw, it’s hard to view Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov as anything but a top-five all-time UFC fight, at least in terms of anticipation and meaning.
You’ve got the return of the most compelling figure in UFC history, fighting for his vacated lightweight title against a 26-0 opponent. There’s been rivalry and trash talk going back years now, while Conor was carrying the featherweight belt and feuding with Nate Diaz and others. Anybody who was dialed in back then hoped to see Conor vs. Khabib sometime in the future, and here we are.
On paper, this fight is incredibly straightforward. Khabib is the promotion’s best grappler and Conor is the promotion’s best striker. I really don’t think that’s a bullshit hot take; I think it’s true. McGregor has put the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Jose Aldo on their butts with perfectly-timed strikes while Khabib has looked bored while grinding opponents into dust on the mat.