UFC bantamweight contender Urijah Faber has warned "legendary" featherweight champion Conor McGregor he could be in for a “bad day” when he takes on lightweight title holder Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 197.
Speaking to Jonathan Shrager of Mixedmartialarts.com (h/t Pundit Arena's Chris Kelleher), the 36-year-old praised McGregor's performance against Jose Aldo at UFC 194, calling his knockout punch of the longtime champion "a legendary thing to do."
But he also said Dos Anjos will learn from Aldo's mistakes and Chad Mendes' success against McGregor when he took the Irishman to the ground at UFC 189:
Conor has that knockout power and him being a little bit bigger, he’s going to be even more dangerous, but RDA is no dummy.
I think he’ll probably learn from Aldo’s mistake and he’ll learn from Chad Mendes’ success. I think he’ll try real hard to grapple and make it an ugly fight with Conor and if that’s the case it’s going to be a bad day for Conor – unless he makes some big improvements.
Which I would think and hope as a world champion and student of the sport that he’s wrestling and doing jiu jitsu every day. If he makes leaps and bounds with the right people behind him and the right mentality.
Here's video of the interview, where Faber begins talking about McGregor's fight with Aldo and his upcoming bout against Dos Anjos at the 16:10 mark:
The 31-year-old Dos Anjos will surely offer McGregor the kind of challenge he has never seen, having dominated the lightweight division in recent times. Per ESPN.com, he has just one loss since 2011, and his last title defence against Donald Cerrone lasted less than a round.
McGregor rose through the featherweight division at lightning speed and was last seen knocking out longtime champion Aldo with a single punch, but the step up to the lightweight division is a big one.
The Irish star has fought as a lightweight before, but he'll immediately be taking on the champion, an experienced fighter who can match his raw power and is far more accomplished on the ground. The MailOnline's Rory Brigstock-Barron highlighted some of the key advantages he holds over McGregor:
There's no doubt he has superior ground skills to the Irishman, and Dos Anjos has looked smothering in top position against some of the best guards in the division.
The 31-year-old is also a southpaw like McGregor, which will open up both fighters to leg kicks and could partially nullify the Irishman's biggest weapon - his left hand.
The fact the lightweight champion is a slight betting favourite over McGregor is another indication that this could be the current featherweight belt-holder's toughest test yet.
Per ESPN.com, McGregor won't have to worry about a disadvantage in size, but Dos Anjos has beaten far taller men with a larger reach than McGregor before. His knockout of Cerrone was a thing of beauty and showed that he's added solid punching power to his impressive grappling skills.
Of course, fans and pundits said the same thing ahead of McGregor's meeting with Aldo, a man who had dominated the featherweight division like no one before and was unbeaten since 2005, per ESPN.com.
Aldo was supposed to be McGregor's biggest test yet, and that fight lasted seconds. Dos Anjos likely won't be walking into a crushing left hand immediately after the opening bell, but you can be sure McGregor will be ready for whatever the Brazilian throws at him―both standing up and on the ground.