UnderGround Forums McGregor Has 'Bad Grappling: Myth?

1/17/20 8:29 AM
6/4/10
Posts: 257

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I had a discussion on a show I run about Conor McGregor's grappling. In particular, the common assertion that it's bad. I find that most analysts (and fans) go back to this talking-point when assessing his skills. And I think that it's unfounded based on the evidence that we have.

Here's the short clip.



In my view, his grappling overall is quite good. The word itself, 'grappling', is used in a very broad sense, because there's a lot to it. And he's better at certain things than others. But I don't see it as being a major hole in his game. And he's proven that over the years.

He was submitted by Diaz, but, let's be real, he lost that fight on the feet. He resigned himself to his fate because he was about to get smashed by strikes. And even if you disagree with that, I'd argue that getting subbed by Diaz isn't a suitable measuring stick. And the same applies to Khabib. He did OK in some exchanges against him (minus the blatant fouls). But, either way, context is key, and the context is he was fighting Khabib.

I think he has many problems, perhaps his cardio above all else, but I don't think his grappling is his primary concern.

What do you think?

1/17/20 11:16 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 15230

Is he going to take fighters down and sub them regularly? No

Is he able to survive in a fight on the ground long enough to get stood up again where he can strike? Yes

Is he done as soon as he is taken down? No

He a MMA fighter with a focus on striking. Grappling is a weak point in his game but not a glaring hole

1/17/20 11:34 AM
2/5/06
Posts: 39965

I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

1/17/20 11:37 AM
1/1/01
Posts: 15233

he's no prime tito, but he can fight at pace. Seems like he "gasses" when he's losing fights. He doesnt gas then lose a fight. My perspective at least.

either way, this fight will be won or lost on based on cardio

1/17/20 12:01 PM
2/5/06
Posts: 39967
kungfugrip - he's no prime tito, but he can fight at pace. Seems like he "gasses" when he's losing fights. He doesnt gas then lose a fight. My perspective at least.

either way, this fight will be won or lost on based on cardio

I think that's accurate
1/17/20 12:03 PM
2/5/06
Posts: 39968

Can I say, it's nice to be in an adult conversation here. Objective discussion, not silly fanboy/hater bullshit.

1/17/20 12:11 PM
9/7/11
Posts: 388

I think his grappling is good, not great. For example, when Chad had his neck. Chad takes home most people's head with that, Connor knew exactly what to do and at what moment to do it. That's above average grappling.

1/17/20 12:21 PM
4/9/16
Posts: 2103
CaptainWoody - Can I say, it's nice to be in an adult conversation here. Objective discussion, not silly fanboy/hater bullshit.

Amen to this.  I truly enjoy having measured, reasonable discussion where there might be a disagreement instead of hysterical screaming and insulting.

 

Awesome vid OP. 

1/17/20 12:37 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 59332

Props to an actual Connor tech thread and not more amateur psychology talk.

Its not bad, its under-rated but I am also not sure how good it is either.

He has shown flashes of good technique in both wrestling and ground - the lateral drop vs Brandao i think it was and smooth pass on Siver. With Siver though, he was already rocked. He got taken down easily vs Mendes but Mendes is (was) one of the best MMA wrestlers and Connor's movement was compromised from injury.

A lot of people talk about how well defended against Khabib in the first td and nearly took his back. True to some extent but....remember all the talk also that Khabib is not that great at leg shots in the open mat too? Well, he still got a fresh Connor down from his first shot and from waaaay out without set up as well.

The Weasel noted that Connor is good at RETAINING guard. When Khabib was reigning down GNP in R2, Khabib still did not pass. There were other instances however where Khabib attempted to mount and also kimura from side mount where Connor was cheating by locking his toes in the fence to block those attempts. Connor also held the shorts on some of Khabib's td attempts in R3 iirc?

He did stuff a few of Eddie's attempts but Eddie never was able to penetrate the range - which is still part of TDD - distance mgmt - something that Machida used for TDD too but also Eddie has never shown to be a really good MMA wrestler.

I will be interested to see if Cowboy can counter Connor's attacks with that intercepting body lock td.

1/17/20 12:38 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 59333
MoreThai22 - 

I think his grappling is good, not great. For example, when Chad had his neck. Chad takes home most people's head with that, Connor knew exactly what to do and at what moment to do it. That's above average grappling.


Not exactly, Mendes despite being TAM does not have a lot of guillotine taps like Faber for example and also, Mendes completely rushed his guillotine attempt from top position as he was gassed and I think prematurely went for the finish because of that. He did not have good control at all when he went for the neck.
1/17/20 2:05 PM
8/19/03
Posts: 28202

I really don't think he does, certainly not any worse than most of his peers.  He's not going to be hitting any flying triangles on people, but like OP said, "grappling" is a very broad term.  Overall, I've observed his grappling exchanges to basically be on par with what would be expected from a modern day, striking-oriented fighter.  His first two losses were a hundred years ago, so I'll throw out those samples.

 

He has an issue with cardio and getting into bad positions once gassed.  Doesn't help that one time was against Terminator Diaz and the other against Khabib.   Not exactly slouches.

1/17/20 2:58 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 59343
WaltJ - 

I really don't think he does, certainly not any worse than most of his peers.  He's not going to be hitting any flying triangles on people, but like OP said, "grappling" is a very broad term.  Overall, I've observed his grappling exchanges to basically be on par with what would be expected from a modern day, striking-oriented fighter.  His first two losses were a hundred years ago, so I'll throw out those samples.

 

He has an issue with cardio and getting into bad positions once gassed.  Doesn't help that one time was against Terminator Diaz and the other against Khabib.   Not exactly slouches.


Grappling is wreslting amd bjj pretty mich in MMA. antime you are clinched, standing or on ground, is grappling which makes the thai clinch or dirty boxing also grappling.
1/17/20 3:07 PM
1/12/05
Posts: 63048

I was told by a top BB who trained with himthat he's very strong and athletic and does a lot of clever little things to create scrambles and get back to his feet. He also has a good defensive guard. He said that he's very good at the things he needs to do on mma 

1/17/20 4:00 PM
2/26/07
Posts: 8589

Id say his grappling is fine, he's shown good wrestling and ability off his back for the most part

 

 

His sub and sub defense is a little lacking, at the world class level

1/17/20 4:58 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 14724

He is a solid brown belt (which is his actual rank). He isn't a world class bjj guy and doesn't label himself as such. Hell his losses where it was on the ground was against Nate (who is a TOP notch bjj black belt in mma and no slouch in the gi) and Khabib (who will make most grapplers at his weight unless they are world class look stupid). So the people claiming his grappling sucks are honestly just trolling or idiots.

1/17/20 5:53 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 14237
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Right.

Compared to your average UFC fighter, Conor is at least 'good' in all areas--maybe not offensive wrestling, but that's it. He grappling and TDD is definitely **good.** They are clearly weak links compared to his striking. The only question is whether they are good enough to be champion in a grappling heavy division.

Dustin Porrier has good grappling and TDD. RDA's TDD isn't bad. But neither, like Conor, are good enough to survive against Khabib. That doesn't mean they are bad.
Edited: 1/17/20 6:42 PM
8/19/03
Posts: 28203
Wasa-B -
WaltJ - 

I really don't think he does, certainly not any worse than most of his peers.  He's not going to be hitting any flying triangles on people, but like OP said, "grappling" is a very broad term.  Overall, I've observed his grappling exchanges to basically be on par with what would be expected from a modern day, striking-oriented fighter.  His first two losses were a hundred years ago, so I'll throw out those samples.

 

He has an issue with cardio and getting into bad positions once gassed.  Doesn't help that one time was against Terminator Diaz and the other against Khabib.   Not exactly slouches.


Grappling is wreslting amd bjj pretty mich in MMA. antime you are clinched, standing or on ground, is grappling which makes the thai clinch or dirty boxing also grappling.

Given that description, I'd maintain that he's about on par with someone of his style.  Grappling manifests differently in MMA depending on how it's used.  You have your Rickson Gracie BJJ types.   Your Matt Hughes wrestling types.  Sometimes, you have your anti-grapplers, like Cro Cop and Liddell, which are grappling styles in their own right. 

 

Conor performs, as a function of the job, all of those things, but none of them particularly well.

 

So, not bad grappling by any stretch, just very average (for the level he fights at) grappling which gets exposed at the elite levels.

 

Everyone has bad matchups.   Grinders who move forward, outgrapple, and gas him out are his.

1/17/20 6:48 PM
2/5/06
Posts: 39986
wiggum - 
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Right.

Compared to your average UFC fighter, Conor is at least 'good' in all areas--maybe not offensive wrestling, but that's it. He grappling and TDD is definitely **good.** They are clearly weak links compared to his striking. The only question is whether they are good enough to be champion in a grappling heavy division.

Dustin Porrier has good grappling and TDD. RDA's TDD isn't bad. But neither, like Conor, are good enough to survive against Khabib. That doesn't mean they are bad.

yup, good analysis
1/17/20 6:57 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 14238
CaptainWoody - 
wiggum - 
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Right.

Compared to your average UFC fighter, Conor is at least 'good' in all areas--maybe not offensive wrestling, but that's it. He grappling and TDD is definitely **good.** They are clearly weak links compared to his striking. The only question is whether they are good enough to be champion in a grappling heavy division.

Dustin Porrier has good grappling and TDD. RDA's TDD isn't bad. But neither, like Conor, are good enough to survive against Khabib. That doesn't mean they are bad.

yup, good analysis

Thanks.

Just to add a couple of objective observations regarding his grappling and wrestling:

-His wrestling and grappling was not good enough to survive against Khabib.
-His TDD and clinch work was good enough to stay standing against Eddie.
-His grappling is not on Nate Diaz's level.
-His TDD was enough to give Mendes trouble, but not enough to stay on his feet. His defensive BJJ was good enough to survive and ultimately create a scamble and escape against somebody who is very good at winning scrambles.
-His wrestling and BJJ is better than Siver's.

All of this, to me, shows someone whose grappling is good. It's just not enough to make him a world champion without his hands.
1/17/20 7:02 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 59360
WaltJ - 
Wasa-B -
WaltJ - 

I really don't think he does, certainly not any worse than most of his peers.  He's not going to be hitting any flying triangles on people, but like OP said, "grappling" is a very broad term.  Overall, I've observed his grappling exchanges to basically be on par with what would be expected from a modern day, striking-oriented fighter.  His first two losses were a hundred years ago, so I'll throw out those samples.

 

He has an issue with cardio and getting into bad positions once gassed.  Doesn't help that one time was against Terminator Diaz and the other against Khabib.   Not exactly slouches.


Grappling is wreslting amd bjj pretty mich in MMA. antime you are clinched, standing or on ground, is grappling which makes the thai clinch or dirty boxing also grappling.

Given that description, I'd maintain that he's about on par with someone of his style.  Grappling manifests differently in MMA depending on how it's used.  You have your Rickson Gracie BJJ types.   Your Matt Hughes wrestling types.  Sometimes, you have your anti-grapplers, like Cro Cop and Liddell, which are grappling styles in their own right. 

 

Conor performs, as a function of the job, all of those things, but none of them particularly well.

 

So, not bad grappling by any stretch, just very average (for the level he fights at) grappling which gets exposed at the elite levels.

 

Everyone has bad matchups.   Grinders who move forward, outgrapple, and gas him out are his.


Yes, it's a good distinction between grappling offense and defense and as a striker, obviously Connor is primarily concerned with grappling defense. One other major aspect I think I noted however is that range or distance Mgmt is key for both striking and grappling (primarily for tds and tdd). Connor has excellent distance Mgmt and is rangy and fights rangy which helps both his striking and tdd. It wasn't great against Khabib of course and also will be keen to see his supposed new style / stance that is less karate like and more boxing like. Not sure how that works against Cowboy but for tdd, I think the karate stance is prob better.
1/17/20 7:09 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 59361
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Any elite fighter who is significantly compromised after 2 rounds has legit shitty cardio. There are no 2 ways around this cmon. His grappling is clearly under rated, his cardio clearly sucks. Even in the second Nate fight where he fought way more measured, he was running away from Nate at the end of R2 and looked like a dying man at the end of r3. To his credit, he came back and won r4 but he was pushing himself to the brink. All other GOATs are pretty much tip top from beginning to end. Even Aldo went thru 5 rounds of war with Mendes.
1/17/20 7:22 PM
2/5/06
Posts: 39988
Wasa-B - 
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Any elite fighter who is significantly compromised after 2 rounds has legit shitty cardio. There are no 2 ways around this cmon. His grappling is clearly under rated, his cardio clearly sucks. Even in the second Nate fight where he fought way more measured, he was running away from Nate at the end of R2 and looked like a dying man at the end of r3. To his credit, he came back and won r4 but he was pushing himself to the brink. All other GOATs are pretty much tip top from beginning to end. Even Aldo went thru 5 rounds of war with Mendes.

He was still fighting hard with Nate in the 5th

Was he tired and winded during the fight at times, yup. But he got past it, His cardio is not elite, I fully admit that but it's not "shitty" either.

Also you have to figure in how he fights....if he pitter pattered shots like a lot of fighters that have "elite" cardio....he'd last much longer as well. He throws with much more intent and power than someone like Nate, that will wind anyone faster.

There's a cost for being faster, more accurate and hitting harder...this is true for anyone.
1/17/20 7:28 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 14240
CaptainWoody - 
Wasa-B - 
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Any elite fighter who is significantly compromised after 2 rounds has legit shitty cardio. There are no 2 ways around this cmon. His grappling is clearly under rated, his cardio clearly sucks. Even in the second Nate fight where he fought way more measured, he was running away from Nate at the end of R2 and looked like a dying man at the end of r3. To his credit, he came back and won r4 but he was pushing himself to the brink. All other GOATs are pretty much tip top from beginning to end. Even Aldo went thru 5 rounds of war with Mendes.

He was still fighting hard with Nate in the 5th

Was he tired and winded during the fight at times, yup. But he got past it, His cardio is not elite, I fully admit that but it's not "shitty" either.

Also you have to figure in how he fights....if he pitter pattered shots like a lot of fighters that have "elite" cardio....he'd last much longer as well. He throws with much more intent and power than someone like Nate, that will wind anyone faster.

There's a cost for being faster, more accurate and hitting harder...this is true for anyone.

I do think that his cardio is his weakest link.

Compare him with Israel, who is similarly faster, more accurate, and harder hitting than most of his opponents--doesn't face nearly the same cardio problems.
1/17/20 7:31 PM
2/5/06
Posts: 39989

Marlon Moraes is another good example of this.

1/17/20 7:36 PM
2/5/06
Posts: 39990
wiggum - 
CaptainWoody - 
Wasa-B - 
CaptainWoody - I agree

His TDD itself is very good, he has very, very good balance. I don't think he has amazing sweeps or anything from the bottom but what he does have is great scrambling ability, he needs little space to be able to scramble and get back on his feet....the Mendes fight is evidence of that.

I'd even throw out that I think the narrative that he has "poor cardio" is also blown out of proportion. He's certainly no cardio machine but again, the Mendes fight showed he can get wrestled, put on his back, have to work and he still had the energy to scramble hard and still punch with power.

Any elite fighter who is significantly compromised after 2 rounds has legit shitty cardio. There are no 2 ways around this cmon. His grappling is clearly under rated, his cardio clearly sucks. Even in the second Nate fight where he fought way more measured, he was running away from Nate at the end of R2 and looked like a dying man at the end of r3. To his credit, he came back and won r4 but he was pushing himself to the brink. All other GOATs are pretty much tip top from beginning to end. Even Aldo went thru 5 rounds of war with Mendes.

He was still fighting hard with Nate in the 5th

Was he tired and winded during the fight at times, yup. But he got past it, His cardio is not elite, I fully admit that but it's not "shitty" either.

Also you have to figure in how he fights....if he pitter pattered shots like a lot of fighters that have "elite" cardio....he'd last much longer as well. He throws with much more intent and power than someone like Nate, that will wind anyone faster.

There's a cost for being faster, more accurate and hitting harder...this is true for anyone.

I do think that his cardio is his weakest link.

Compare him with Israel, who is similarly faster, more accurate, and harder hitting than most of his opponents--doesn't face nearly the same cardio problems.

He's also thinner and I wouldn't agree with the "harder hitting" part, I think Robert and Kevin probably hit harder and put more into their shots.

I guess it depends on what you consider "shitty" too. We may be looking at this with two different definitions of what is considered "shitty"