Most of the talk coming out of the UFC 229 event over the weekend focused on the brawl that ensued after the main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, where the man from Dagestan put on a clinical performance, taking down his Irish opponent at will before submitting him with a hold that was half neck crank, half rear-naked choke.
The finish was a topic of animated discussion at the Fox Sports desk where host Karyn Bryant, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and former middleweight champion Michael Bisping were providing analysis.
Bisping opined that once Nurmgomedov took McGregor’s back in the fourth round, the Irishman was looking for a way out of the fight. However, “The Count” stopped short of faulting McGregor or accusing him of quitting, pointing out that he had already taken quite a beating by that point.
"Look, what happened towards the end is that Conor gave up, because the choke wasn't even under the chin; it wasn't on the neck,” Bisping said. "But it's easy to sit here and say he gave up. When you're tired and when you've been pounded for four rounds... let's not forget that, in that second round, Khabib put it on him bad.
"It could have been close to being stopped on a couple of occasions,” Bisping added. “I'm sure Herb Dean was looking at it closely and considering saying to Conor, 'You've got to do something. You've got to fight back'. When you get to round four, the choke doesn't need to be perfect - the technique doesn't need to be perfect. It sucks."
Submission defense has been McGregor’s Achilles’ heel throughout his career, with all four of his professional losses coming via submission. Notably, his last MMA defeat before Saturday, at the hands of Nate Diaz in 2016, also came via rear-naked choke in a fight where a tired and beat-up McGregor tapped fairly quickly.