Mental Warfare

ufcc-229The talk surrounding fights will always take the athletic ability and skill set of the fighters into account above all.

That is largely because it is a lot harder to judge the mental side of things and in MMA that mental side has never really taken a focus.

Every fighter that stepped into the octagon was considered mentally strong because this was a different breed of combat sports.

This was a version of fighting that involved two people in a small area looking to end a fight in any manner that they could see fit.

Just about everything is legal in MMA and as a result, it takes a special type of person to step into that octagon and prepare to get hit in the face.

Every MMA fighter was essentially a mentally strong person because of what they had to face every time they signed up to fight.

There was also no real need to talk about the mental game because nobody came through trying to get into their opponent’s heads.

For the longest time, the world of MMA was full of guys who just simply wanted to test themselves and they concentrated on being the best at what they did.

Over the years a few fighters looked to try to push their opponent off of their game by talking a lot in press conferences and on social media.

Nobody was doing it at the level that Conor McGregor does it though as he brought in a new meaning to mental warfare.

Coming into the UFC, McGregor was a bit of a boogeyman with legends about this young fighter walking through everyone in Ireland.

The legends were so great that they convinced Dana White to sign the young Irishman to a UFC contract without much being known about him.

He came in on fire as he began talking from the moment he won his first fight but this was a little different.

Although other fighters had always claimed to be the best and that they would beat everyone something about McGregor made you believe it more than others.

He truly believed that he was going to be the best fighter in the history of the UFC and that he could beat everyone and when he talked everyone listened.

As his fights got bigger so did his personality and when he began main eventing his ability to sell a fight laid the blueprint for everyone else.

What nobody has been able to do as well as him though has been his ability to get to his opponents during those times selling the fight.

McGregor has been the ultimate trash talking pissing everyone of his opponents off and it has led to some strange decisions in the octagon.

The talk has gotten fighters like Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez completely off of their game and that added to the environment that McGregor and his fans bring to a fight has been a big part of the wins for McGregor.

Alvarez admitted it himself saying he knew what he needed to do but for whatever reason did the opposite and got caught by a wicked left hand.

It is a massive part of McGregor’s game as he takes that part of his game seriously always looking to get to his opponent using whatever he can get.

Most of his opponents have fallen for it as they simply get too angry and make poor decisions while falling directly into his trap.mma-sidebar.fw

This was going to be one of the biggest factors in his return to the octagon at UFC 229 as he was taking on a fighter that brings a legend of his own.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been brought up in the fight world in a country that is known for producing mentally strong athletes.

He may be the most mentally strong fighter in the FUC and has that ability to break people in the octagon, which he has shown on his run towards the lightweight title.

McGregor has tried to get into his head but for the most part, Nurmagomedov has not fed into the games.

The Dagestani fighter decided not to wait for McGregor to come to the press conference and left before the Irishman even arrived, 30-minutes late.

Aside from one brief moment in their first press conference Nurmagomedov has seemed to be more or less himself.

There is a sense of anger from the champion that hasn’t been seen before but nobody knows what that was going to mean on the night of the fight.

So the question heading into the fight was whether or not McGregor could beat someone without that mental game turning to his advantage.

Then again maybe it all affected Nurmagomedov more than anyone could have expected and he was not going to be the guy that everyone knew.

The fight was going to tell and when they stepped into the octagon it seemed like Nurmagomedov was a ball of energy while McGregor seemed calm.

That never really seemed to matter though as Nurmagomedov was the one able to get his game plan in action.

Nurmagomedov immediately dove for the takedown and began wearing McGregor out from the first round.

Despite some small standing exchanges and a third round that seemed to be McGregor’s this fight was exactly what Nurmagomedov had planned for.

Eventually, he was able to take the back of McGregor and lock in a neck crank to earn the win and prove that the mental warfare wasn’t enough to take him out of his game.

Then again the actions after the fight, which will become the focus, seemed to show that McGregor did get to him just not enough to actually make Nurmagomedov lose.

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