In a lengthy Instagram post early Tuesday that began with "thoughts on my last fight," Conor McGregor provided painstaking detail about what went wrong in his UFC 229 loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, including a round-by-round breakdown. McGregor (21-4), a former two-division UFC champion who lost via fourth-round submission to the reigning lightweight champion in his return from a nearly two-year layoff on Oct. 6, chose not to mention the post-fight melee that threatened to stain Nurmagomedov's victory. Instead, the 30-year-old Irish star closed the post by focusing on his hope for a second meeting.
"It was a great fight and it was my pleasure," McGregor wrote. "I will be back with my confidence high. Fully prepared. If it is not the rematch right away, no problem. I will face the next in line. It's all me always, anyway. See you soon my fighting fans I love you all."
The most surprising part of the post may have been McGregor's willingness to face another top 155-pound fighter in the promotion's deepest and most dangerous division in order to secure the Nurmagomedov rematch he has openly wanted since the moment UFC 229 ended.
Let's take a look at McGregor's detailed breakdown about who he believe won each round and how the results played into the end result.
After a brief and tense standoff on the feet, which including a successful stuffing of Nurmagomedov's first takedown attempt, the unbeaten Russian was able to sit McGregor down on his second try. The remainder of the round saw Nurmagomedov (27-0) deliberately work for position before finally proving able to get a determined McGregor onto his back before the end of the round.
"I believe from a sport standpoint, round 1 was his," McGregor wrote. "Top position against the fence. Zero position advancement or damage inflicted. But top position. From a fight standpoint the first round is mine. Actual shots landed and a willingness to engage. Straight left early. Knee to the head on the low shot. Elbows in any and all tie up scenarios. Opponent just holding the legs against the fence for almost the entire round."
The 30-year-old Nurmagomedov shocked those in attendance at T-Mobile Arena (not to mention McGregor himself) with a right hand that dropped him early on. McGregor quickly rose to his feet and caught Nurmagomedov with a knee as he shot in. The remainder of the round, however, saw Nurmagomedov control from top position as he slowly emptied McGregor's gas tank with ground strikes.
"Round 2 he is running away around the cage before being blessed with a right hand that changed the course of the round, and the fight," McGregor wrote. "It was a nice shot. After the shot I bounced back up to engage instantly, but again he dipped under to disengage. That is the sport and it was a smart move that led to a dominant round, so no issue. Well played."
McGregor proved very transparent in revealing how shockingly little he prepared for Nurmagomedov's striking game, let alone anything other than his own takedown defense.
"If I stay switched on and give his stand up even a little more respect, that right hand never gets close and we are talking completely different now," McGregor wrote. "I gave his upright fighting no respect in preparation. No specific stand up spars whatsoever. Attacking grapplers/wrestlers only. That won't happen again. I also gave my attacking grappling no respect. To defense minded. Lessons. Listen to nobody but yourself on your skill set. You are the master of your own universe. I am the master of this. I must take my own advice."
McGregor did well to stuff a series of early takedown attempts before winning what became a competitive battle on the feet for the majority of the round. All three judges gave the edge to McGregor, marking the first time Nurmagomedov had a round scored against him in his UFC career.
"After the worst round of my fighting career, I come back and win this round," McGregor wrote. "Again walking forward, walking him down, and willing to engage."
This is where things fell apart for McGregor, as Nurmagomedov regained dominant position early on the ground before finishing the fight via rear-naked choke. Although McGregor briefly mentions his lack of stamina by this point in the fight, he pointed to a crucial mistake that led to the tapout.
"My recovery was not where it could have been here. That is my fault," McGregor wrote. "Although winning the early exchanges in 4, he dips under again and I end up in a bad position with over 3 [minutes] on the clock. I work to regain position and end up upright, with my back to the fence. A stable position. Here however, I made a critical error of abandoning my over hook at this crucial time, exposing the back, and I end up beaten fair and square. What can I say?"
Although Nurmagomedov briefly flirted publicly with the idea of a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather over the last week, UFC has yet to reveal plans for the champion's next move. Speaking this week with ESPN, UFC president Dana White was asked which fight -- speaking as a fan only -- he would most like to see Nurmagomedov take next and his answer was former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson.