Monday 14 October 2019

Conor McGregor made a surprising admission to Khabib Nurmagomedov during Vegas showdown

Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, tries to take down Conor McGregor
Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, tries to take down Conor McGregor
The Russian submits McGregor in the fourth round. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ben Burrows

The build-up to Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov was dominated by plenty of verbal sparring - and it appears the words didn't stop once the two entered the octagon on Saturday night either.

McGregor suffered only the second defeat of his UFC career with the Russian extending his unbeaten record at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Khabib dominated the contest throughout frequently taking McGregor to the mat and showing his class. The build-up saw both exchange a number of barbs between the two but McGregor appeared to attempt to play down his pre-fight trash talk during the fight.

"It's only business", McGregor can be seen saying which prompted a reply of "Hey, guess so" from his opponent at the end of round three. Khabib went on to secure his victory with a rear-naked choke a round later.

Khabib's win was immediately marred as he jumped over the cage to attack McGregor's training partner Dillon Danis, and while a melee broke out outside the octagon, three of Khabib's team jumped into it to attack McGregor – who was still recovering from being choked out.

Khabib spoke at the post-fight press conference to apologise for his actions, but defended them by claiming they were a result of the provocation from McGregor, who taunted Khabib for his religion, Russian background and insulted his father.

McGregor did not appear after being allowed to leave the T-Mobile Arena, but later elected not to press charges against the three individuals who attacked him, who were all arrested by Las Vegas Police but later released.

Instead, McGregor posted a message on Twitter that simply read: "Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch."

Nurmagomedov said that he wants to make MMA a "more respectful sport", complaining bitterly about McGregor's behaviour in the weeks ahead of the fight.

"I told you guys: his whole team and him, they are tap machines. Today he tapped. Undisputed and undefeated," he said. "This is a respectful sport. This is not a trash-talking sport. I want to change this game. You cannot talk about religions and nations. This for me is very important. Thank you for waiting for me. I know my father is gonna smash me when I go home. Nevada: sorry. Vegas: sorry."

Nurmagomedov, now an unblemished 27-0 following the win in Las Vegas, could be stripped of the belt and is yet to receive any of his fight purse from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

However, McGregor's coach John Kavanagh, for his part, understands why Khabib did what he did.

"I hope (the NSAC) is lenient on him," he said on The Joe Rogan Experience. "Not just so we can get a rematch. I just love watching him fight. I can stretch myself to understand his reaction. I can't stretch myself to understand (his teammates') reaction. For Khabib, it's not the end of the world."

Kavanagh had a front row seat as Khabib leapt over the cage and attacked Bellator welterweight Danis.

"(Danis) actually didn't say anything," Kavanagh added. "I was standing beside Dillon. I didn't see what he did, but I could hear. He didn't say anything. When I watched it back, I could see him beckon (Nurmagomedov) on.

"It's just stupid end-of-fight stuff. But it didn't justify that level of response. Maybe there was something else in the build-up.

"Dillon is a little bit of trouble online. But, like I said, it wasn't that big of a deal to me what Khabib did. It just really wasn't."

Independent News Service

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