Some names will remain eternal in the Ultimate Fighting Championship history books, and few come with such an excellent legacy as Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired from fighting in 2020 with a perfect MMA record of 29 wins and zero losses. This included winning the Lightweight Championship, then successfully defending the title three times.
But regardless of boasting such a phenomenal record, there are certain personalities who appear to lack respect for what Khabib achieved, and one of those personalities is none other than Connor McGregor. The ‘Notorious’ has never gotten over his own 2018 defeat against Nurmagomedov, who defended his title in style against the Irishman, winning their UFC 229 contest with a neck crank that forced the submission.
That bout between ‘The Eagle’ and ‘Notorious’ has now become infamous, given there was plenty of controversy and incident surrounding the whole event. During the fight, McGregor became the first rival to win a round against Khabib, something the Russian had never experienced throughout his entire UFC career. Then after Khabib had won the fight, everything descended into chaos, when a mass brawl erupted between the corner teams.
Conor McGregor responds after Khabib Nurmagomedov references one of McGregor's memorable lines. pic.twitter.com/fWuMNMDia9
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) November 21, 2022
McGregor always hoped to get a rematch, although Khabib went on to beat Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September 2019, and Justin Gaethje at UFC 252 in October 2020. Then came the shock news on 19 March 2021, when UFC president Dana White announced that Nurmagomedov had taken the decision to retire, also vacating his Lightweight Championship title.
Khabib has gone on to become an active coach, working alongside several renowned talents and in various championships, including the recently crowned UFC Lightweight Championship winner and close friend Islam Makhachev. “I hear a long time ago when one guy was talking about ‘we’re here to take over,’” said Khabib in Toronto recently, referencing past comments by McGregor, when the Irish fighter was reaching the peak of his UFC stardom. “But we are here to take over,” he insisted, regarding his own coaching team and fighters.
That use of his own words inevitably grabbed the attention of McGregor, as noted by the Daily Mail, who couldn’t resist the urge to respond. “I fight on!” he boasted. “Your father’s plan is never complete because you quit and ran, brother. God bless. I’m still here if you wanna go again,” was the challenge. “But your fear of defeat means you’ve already lost. Run from it all you want. We all lose in the end. Death takes us all. I fear nothing but God,” concluded McGregor, who later deleted the tweet.
Khabib talks UFC 284 and Makhachev vs. Volkanovski
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Many combat sports fans will already be looking forward to UFC 284, scheduled for 12 February at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. This will see homegrown MMA star Alexander Volkanovski in action, as the 34-year-old takes on Islam Makhachev for the Lightweight Championship title.
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) November 22, 2022
31-year-old Makhachev won the Lightweight Championship at UFC 280 last October, thanks to an impressive win against Charles Oliveira in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Now he will defend that belt against Volkanovski, who is also the reigning Featherweight Championship title holder, having fought four successful defences himself since taking the belt at UFC 245 in December 2019.
But there have been words of caution from UFC icon Khabib, who helped coach Makhachev to his title, in comments highlighted by GiveMeSport, the undefeated former champions believes that Volkanovski will be a tougher matchup, compared to the previous bout against Oliveira. “I think Volkanovski’s better than him. I think Volkanovski is gonna be tougher opponent for Islam than Charles Oliveira,” he acknowledged.
Nevertheless, there is also plenty of confidence on the part of Khabib, who is convinced his current pupil and friend Makhachev will claim another monumental victory, and successfully defend his newly won title. “We’re gonna finish this guy,” Khabib insisted, confident his vast experience and advice will help coach Makhachev to victory against Volkanovski.