With Conor McGregor’s legal issues resolved, the wheels are finally in motion for a meeting between McGregor and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Speaking Friday at a fan Q&A in Calgary before UFC on FOX 30’s ceremonial weigh-ins, Nurmagomedov fielded numerous queries about the potential blockbuster matchup, which is currently in negotiations to take place in late 2018 and holds the potential to be the highest-selling MMA pay-per-view of all-time.
And after everything that has happened between the two 155-pounders — from McGregor receiving a lightweight title shot at UFC 205 over Nurmagomedov, all the way to the infamous UFC 223 dolley incident that landed McGregor at the mercy of the Brooklyn courts — Nurmagomedov made it clear that he wants payback. He isn’t going to allow McGregor a quick and painless out.
“My plan is make him fight. Make him fight, make him tired, and make him give up. This is my plan,” Nurmagomedov told the fans in Calgary. “I don’t want to finish him early. I want to make him pay, about all things, what happened. You know, I can’t believe enough we’re finally going to fight. I can’t believe. Wait to sign, wait on where we’re going to fight.
“When cage close, I’m going to believe. But, before? No way.”
Nurmagomedov, 29, captured the vacant lightweight crown earlier this year with a decision win over last-second replacement Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. The performance capped off a chaotic week that saw McGregor incite a melee in the bowels of the Barclays Center following UFC 223 media day and hurl a dolley through a window of the fighter bus carrying the undefeated Dagestani. McGregor ultimately agreed to a plea deal on Thursday that saw him plead guilty to one count of disorderly conduct and avoid jailtime.
Following his Thursday court hearing, McGregor tweeted then deleted an ominous message that read, “Calvary, Canada.”
Nurmagomedov said Friday that the tweet prompted the UFC to order security to shadow him throughout his stay in Calgary in case McGregor tried any of his shenanigans again.
“If you have problem with somebody, why you need come with 30 people and with camera?” Nurmagomedov said. “Why? For what? I don’t understand this. For me, interesting. Like, yesterday UFC called me, ‘Hey, we need you, we have to talk with you,’ and my manager go talk with them. They say we have to give you couple security guys, because [McGregor] put tweet, and after, he delete. After court he put tweet about, ‘Calvary, let’s go to Calgary.’ Hey, why you need cavalry? Come alone and send me location and that’s it.”
Nurmagomedov said several times throughout the fan Q&A that he does not believe McGregor deserves a title shot after being inactive in MMA since Nov. 2016. If the call were up to him, Nurmagomedov said he’d instead award the opportunity to fight for the belt to the winner of Saturday’s lightweight main event between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier.
Nonetheless, Nurmagomedov acknowledged that the big money behind the fight means that McGregor will likely be next, and when asked how McGregor could potentially beat him, Nurmagomedov was blunt in his response.
“It’s impossible, brother,” Nurmagomedov said. “No really, I think it’s impossible. This is what I think. If I try to take him down one time and he defends very good, I’m going to try to do this 100 times. What he going to do? He don’t have conditioning, he don’t have wrestling, he don’t have grappling. When he tired, he don’t have heart. What happen? He have only very good left hand. I agree with this, he have very good left hand. But what he going to do?
“I’m going to cut this angle and try to take him down 100 times, and it’s going to be different fight. People think, okay, if Khabib going to fight like I fight versus Iaquinta, okay, he can beat me. But you have to watch all my fights, all my 10 fights, it’s all different. When I fight with (Edson) Barboza, (Rafael) dos Anjos, Michael Johnson, all fight is different. And we will see. We will see.”
Who wins that fight?
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