ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is no stranger to stirring the pot, so it should be no surprise to MMA fans around the world that the famed American television personality would decide he was in the proper position to offer career advice to UFC superstar Conor McGregor.
Smith delivered his latest UFC hot take alongside Max Kellerman during a recent episode of ESPN’s “First Take” which aired last week after news broke that McGregor accepted the January 23 date offered by the UFC for his rematch against Dustin Poirier.
“Here’s my advice to Conor McGregor…if Conor McGregor really wants [Khabib] Nurmagomedov, not only do you win this fight…you also shut the hell up a little bit,” Smith said.
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You can watch the entire segment below.
Smith: ‘Nurmagomedov Despises This Man’
Essentially, Smith believes the bad blood between McGregor and Nurmagomedov is so real at this point that McGregor’s only choice is to stay quiet if the Irishman wishes to net another UFC lightweight title shot.
“In this regard, Nurmagomedov despises this man,” Smith said. “It is clear, he does not like Conor McGregor.”
Smith delved into why he believes that to be the case, and it mostly stems from McGregor’s wild antics and trash talk during the buildup for UFC 229 back in 2018.
Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor via fourth-round submission but the Russian dynamo hasn’t yet forgotten any of McGregor’s pre-fight rhetoric.
“He felt Conor McGregor disrespected his family, his religion…his country, everything,” Smith said. “Okay? He doesn’t like the guy.”
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Smith on Nurmagomedov’s Reasoning
Such heat between two professional fighters would usually be the cause of making a fight happen rather than the opposite, but Smith touched on why he believes Nurmagomedov might look elsewhere next assuming the undefeated champ beats Justin Gaethje in his next fight at UFC 254 on October 24 in Abu Dhabi.
“Usually, that’s a reason to get into the fight,” Smith said. “But Nurmagomedov doesn’t want to give him any shine. So the more Conor McGregor bloviates and talks smack and wants Nurmagomedov, the more Nurmagomedov is determined to make him wait.”
So Smith believes McGregor’s best chance at getting the rematch against Nurmagomedov is to beat Poirier in his next fight but to also stay respectful and mostly quiet about his Russian rival Nurmagomedov in the process.
Otherwise, Nurmagomedov might never face McGregor again if only just to keep the spotlight away from the Irish MMA star as much as possible.
“He will not give him an inch of publicity or shine in any way,” Smith said.
McGregor Unlikely To Heed Smith’s Warnings
McGregor isn’t likely to heed Smith’s warnings for two reasons.
First, Smith doesn’t follow the sport that closely at all, so his opinions about how the sport operates and what can or will happen probably don’t hold much weight in McGregor’s eyes.
Second, and most importantly, McGregor is the most popular UFC superstar in history. There’s little reason for someone like that to heed anyone else’s counsel on such matters, especially when it comes to securing lucrative superfights.
McGregor has consistently done that in his carer, and he’s doing the same thing in 2020.
McGregor appears to be facing Poirier next on January 23. After that, McGregor could be heading into a boxing ring against boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
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