MMA NERD FIGHT: Max Holloway vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov edition

Rick Monsey & Dante Morgan

Khabib Nurmagomedov (photo credit Adam Hunger © USA Today Sports)

In this new specialist column to MMATorch, Rick Monsey and Dante Morgan compete for ultimate MMA bragging rights. For the inaugural MMA Nerd Fight, Rick and Dante pick the UFC lightweight title fight between Max Holloway and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

UFC 223 is in Brooklyn on April 7th and despite the main event changing this event still has a lot to get excited about.  Fight night weekend is on the horizon and it’s time again to predict some outcomes.

Being an MMA fan I enjoy watching individuals compete.  With that in mind, a guest will be participating in this column with me.  We’re going to have a journalistic competition of our own.

The rules to this are simple:

  • We predict a winner and a looser for each fight and give a quick explanation behind the picks.
  • There’s obviously a chance we would pick the same winners on occasion. Well in this competition there are no split decisions.  To avoid a tie, we will also forecast the way the fight will end, for example, “third round by decision”.
  • The person who gets the most picks right wins bragging rights.

Well folks, let’s get on with the show!

This week competitors are:

  • Rick “the Alaskan” Monsey: Regular com contributor and occasional co-host for the “MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans” podcast.
  • Dante Morgan. MMA fan since the days of T-Rex and Stegosaurus used to fight no hold barred in the steamy jungles of Patagonia.

UFC 223 Main Card

UFC lightweight championship

Tony Ferguson (ic) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

UFC lightweight championship

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Max Holloway

Rick’s PICKS

WHO:         Khabib Nurmagomedov

HOW:          Decision

WHEN:        After the 5th Round

WHY:           PLEASE KEEP THIS FIGHT INTACT!  I’ll pray to whoever or whatever I need to. I’m begging, keep this bout from being scrapped! With the idea that it’s happening it becomes the hardest fight to predict of the night.  A true “pick ‘em.”  

That is what I had written about the original main event between Tony Ferguson (ic) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov on the day before March ended. But then April Fools rolls around and the bad news breaks. Tony Ferguson is injured and forced out of the fight.  Like many other fans I was hoping this was an April fools joke… very unfunny joke.

Instead what we got is another example of how cruel the MMA gods can be.  It’s the fourth time this fight has been promoted jus to fall apart!

After the disappointment settles we need to move on and accept that there still is going to be a lightweight championship title fight.

You may ask for which belt are they competing for. Is it Conor McGregors’ official lightweight Championship belt or Tony Fergusons’ interim title belt?  Dana white says it’s for the real belt, we’ll see.  It’s starting to get confusing. (White has since clarified that the winner would be the sole lightweight champion.)

Time to talk about the actual fight. I foresee a scenario where Max Holloway is on his back having his head pressed against the cage and Khabib raining down ground and pound punches to Max’s face. There will also be some slicing elbows being rained down on the “blessed’ one while he tries to get back on his feet. “The Eagle” Khabib Nurmagomedov has proven himself to be a very fierce competitor.  His dominant takedown and ground and pound combination has earned him an impressive undefeated streak.  That streak will continue on April 7th.

However, credit to Max Holloway for stepping up. Taking a fight with six days notice is risky.  Saving the main event Holloway has earned him many fans respect and most likely the praise of the UFC. But is Holloway completely healed up from the ankle injury that took him out of UFC 222?  If Holloway is still feeling lingering effects in his ankle that won’t help with the takedown defense he’s going to need against Khabib.

Let’s just hope this is a good fight and it doesn’t’ muddy up the waters in both divisions for very long.  Surely Brian Ortega is watching this fight with interest wondering if he’ll get a title shot against Holloway for the featherweight title in the near future.

Meanwhile, we know the infamous Conor McGregor will be watching this main event.  It should be interesting to see what McGregor will be posting during and after this card. After the main event all the talk should be focused in the direction of McGregor. Will he be facing Holloway or Nurmagomedov later this year?

Dante’s PICKS

WHO:          Khabib Nurmagomedov

HOW:          Submission

WHEN:         Round 2

WHY:          Sooo incredibly disappointed we aren’t getting the fight we were looking forward to. However, this is a hell of a consolation prize for us MMA fans!

I don’t know what to think of this fight. I guess it never really dawned on me as a possibility. Khabib is such a steamroller of a fighter and I would still pick him to win if Holloway had a full camp.

This just doesn’t seem like a fight Holloway can win unless he stuns Khabib early in the fight. Very possible, but nonetheless, I’m going to pick Khabib. He will get the takedowns when he’s ready to shoot and look to mount or take a submission when he sees an opening.

I hope it’s more competitive, in fact I hope Holloway wins because that would be so much more exciting of a storyline. I just don’t lean towards that outcome as amazing as it would be.

NOW READ THIS: Nightly MMA News Tap 4/4/2018: White clarifies the lightweight title situation, Conor McGregor’s status and Brock Lesnar’s return. Dillashaw-Garbrandt targeted for UFC 227(W/video analysis)

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