An Exclusive Interview With Jimmy Smith
I caught up with UFC commentator and analyst Jimmy Smith, where we discussed the recent main event at UFC 229 between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
Q: Were you surprised how Conor fought. I expected him to move more, keep his distance and use his greater reach.
Yeah I was. It looked like he was trying to send a message of confidence by bringing physical pressure early. In hindsight, it probably would have been better for him to play the range game and let Khabib come to him.
Q: When Khabib took Conor down in the 1st, I thought Conor did well avoiding any real damage, he’s clearly a better all round fighter than he’s given credit for.
He managed it well early. His balance looked good and his defense on the ground was decent. It was keeping that defense going through 4 rounds that proved to be the issue.
Q: Conor was dropped by the right in 2nd, to the surprise of most I would think and when he was being smashed on the ground did you think it was over.
I really thought it might be over with the ground and pound at the end of the 2nd. Conor recovered well from the flash knockdown but the follow-up punches on the ground were brutal.
Q: Obviously Conor survived and started to have some success in the 3rd, did you think at that point the tide had turned.
I thought more that Khabib spent a lot of gas trying to finish Conor at the end of the 2nd and was spending the round getting his energy back. Conor won the round, but didn’t do enough to make me think the tide was turning. I thought Conor was in a pretty deep hole at that point.
Q: I must admit even though he may have edged the 3rd, I thought his punches lacked their usual flow and I’m not convinced his power is the same at lightweight.
I don’t think Conor has ever really been a “power” guy as much a timing and accuracy guy. His timing didn’t seem as sharp in the Khabib fight as it had been in previous fights.
Q: Of course in the 4th Conor was taken down again and he seemed to tap very quickly, little effort to fight the hands, do you agree.
I think most fighters would have tapped in that situation. Khabib is a power grappler with crazy strength. He was willing to rip Conor’s head clean off and I get the feeling he would have without a tap.
Q: Overall I don’t think Conor looked the same, obviously Khabib played a big part in that and cage rust to a point. But do you think all his other obligations have caught up with and the McGregor era is nearly over.
Too early to say that in my opinion. He took on a phenomenal fighter after a 2-year layoff. A lot of factors play into Conor’s performance, but to say he is finished is premature to me.
Q: Conor has asked for a rematch, do you think he deserves one and if he got one could he do any better and if so how.
“Deserve” is always a tricky word in MMA. I don’t think a rematch is smart at this point. Conor clearly needs to work on some things before he takes on Khabib again and there are plenty of entertaining fights for him in the meantime.
Q: If the rematch doesn’t happen, who would you like to see him fight next, personally GSP would be an interesting fight, especially at 155.
I think GSP presents many of the same problems that Khabib did. GSP is a big, strong grappler whose top pressure opens up his submission game. His striking is excellent as well, so Conor would be in an uphill fight if that were to happen. I think a trilogy fight with Diaz makes more sense.
Q: Conor is incredibly loyal to his team but do you think some changes need to be made in camp.
Not sure what is going on in Conor’s camp and how much say he has in the direction of his training. Superstar fighters usually have a lot of input in what goes on in their camps, so who knows where the blame actually lies when it comes to Conor’s preparation.
Q: In regards to Khabib, Tony Ferguson should be next and in my opinion Ferguson has the best chance of beating Khabib, do you agree.
Ferguson certainly looked sharp last time out and has an amazing skill set. Kevin Lee is a tough matchup that I would like to see for Khabib as well.
FightPost: Thank you so much Jimmy for giving up your time for the interview as ever it is much appreciated.