Mir, a former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, says that the Russian MMA market is different to the USA, to McGregor’s benefit.
In the US a lot of people are more interested in the story behind what’s going on rather than what the fight is. I just think they watch the fight to see the result at the end. It’s an afterthought more than it is a primary drive, whereas you go to other places, especially like Russia where fighting is actually a passion not necessarily just ‘who-hates-who’. That’s why Conor McGregor does so well. He’s a good fighter but let’s face it: if Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and him face off, I wouldn’t bet on Conor to last even past a round. But he makes more money than Khabib because he has such a great mouth…Khabib has stayed true to his character, he’s a softly-spoken guy and I think he does all his talking with his fists and he’s not getting title shots and he’s not getting talked about in the US media as much. A guy who is 24-0, amongst the fighters we know he’s probably the best guy really in the world at lightweight. I don’t think anybody questions his ability to destroy guys and how powerful he is. But ESPN isn’t knocking his door down to give him interviews and he’s not doing commercials, Conor is…Conor’s making millions of dollars fighting and so I think Khabib now sees that and realizes he needs to start talking more. And here, he goes out and destroys Michael Johnson in his last fight [and] made him look like he shouldn’t even be in the top ten.