clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

'More popular' Khabib Nurmagomedov puts UFC on blast (again) for 'taking care' of Conor McGregor - 'I'm going to make him give up'

It's possible that Khabib Nurmagomedov is over-playing his very strong hand with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matchmakers. He is clearly the No. 1-ranked Lightweight contender after eviscerating Michael Johnson at UFC 205 two weeks ago (highlights). However, it's crystal clear that "The Eagle" stands a very good chance of toppling UFC's golden boy, Conor McGregor, who just became the promotion's first-ever "double champ" with a technical knockout victory over Eddie Alvarez at the same event.

Nurmagomedov has been very vocal -- even between rounds -- that he has earned the next 155-pound title shot. In fact, he even warned UFC that if his demands are not met, not only will he quit, but he will ensure that the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) league will "never, ever" stage an event in his Russian homeland. Nurmagomedov is apparently a pretty big deal in Russia.

"Conor [McGregor] is a popular guy," Nurmagomedov told "But, if we talk about fans, I think I have more fans than him. Much more. If we have 6 million people in Ireland. What are we talking about?  I have 150 million only in Russia. But, if we talk about Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. Everywhere. Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, Turkey."

Nurmagomedov is in a tough spot, considering that McGregor will not compete until after May 2017 because his long-time girlfriend, Dee Devlin, is pregnant. Waiting six months for a title shot wouldn't be so bad in a normal situation, but this is not a normal situation. McGregor has yet to defend the Featherweight belt that he won in Dec. 2015. In other words, if McGregor is allowed to defend two belts, Nurmagomedov might be in for a long wait. So long that UFC might try and book him in a No. 1 contender eliminator match against Tony Ferguson just to keep the 155-pound division rolling. And that is far from ideal.

It's not like the loose-lipped McGregor is itching to pick a fight with Nurmagomedov, either, branding him a "constant pull out merchant," which is rather tame for his standards ... especially after a backstage confrontation.

"I think UFC put me on the 'Prelims' [undercard] because they don’t want to make me bigger," Nurmagomedov claimed. "They have to take care of Conor [McGregor]. They just don't promote me.

"My style is very hard, he continued. "Because I have pressure, I can take you down – body, single-leg, double-leg. I have very good conditioning. I know this... Conor is a very good striking guy – everybody knows this. Good boxing, good timing. His counter-punches are very good. But, everybody knows I have a very good top control, wrestling, pressure. Why would I fight in a stand up with him? I’m gonna take him down, I’m gonna slap him, make him nervous, talk with him, and make him give up."

That is a very plausible result, one that UFC would like to delay and/or avoid at all costs for as long as possible. And that's more than enough time for Nurmagomedov to talk his proud self out of the Octagon.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania