Nurmagomedov’s coach comments on the situation that will arise if he beats Tony Ferguson in UFC 209. In that case, Nurmagomedov should fight McGregor, but if McGregor fights Mayweather, Nurmagomedov will be forced to sit on the sidelines for several months before being handed the opportunity to unify the interim and undisputed titles. Coach:
The way I look at it is when Khabib wins, not if Khabib wins, it’s a matter of what Khabib wants to do next. I don’t think Khabib will wait for Conor. Conor is going to do what Conor wants to do. Khabib isn’t going to wait around for Conor.
At a Q&A session at the National Restaurant in New York City. Nurmagomedov talks about his potential opponents, including McGregor.
I don’t give a shit about Conor. I think only about the belt…“Let’s go. Make not only him humble but all of Ireland.
During his interview at An Evening with.., in Manchester, McGregor dismisses any threat from Ferguson or Nurmagomedov.
Not a whisper about that one. But business is business. You’ve got to create [attention], because the two guys who are fighting for that interim belt are bums. I always look at the game, the fight game in the UFC, and sometimes I wonder to myself why it’s never broken through to that next level, why no one before me has ever gotten to that next level. Because they’re all dogshit. They’re sloppy, messy, chinny. It’s not pretty to look at, and it’s the same with these two clowns. Two bums fighting for an interim belt. They should be very happy that I’m chilling now, taking a break, and they have this little chance to think that they’re up there. But in reality, they’re nowhere close. They both would be knocked out stiff. Both chinny, both wild, too sloppy…F*ck them all. F*ck every one of them.
Nurmagomedov taunts McGregor.
Conor has to be careful because I’m going to smash Tony Ferguson and after I’m going to smash Conor McGregor. I think after this one, people will begin to forget about this guy. But now, everybody talks about him, but it’s okay. For me, it’s okay. I don’t care about him, I only want to fight for the title. This is what I want. I don’t care about conor or Floyd Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers, but I think I am the Floyd Mayweather of mma. I am 24-0, I can be 26-0 — 10-0 in the UFC — undefeated and undisputed UFC lightweight champion. I want to become the greatest lightweight ever. This is what I want.
Coach Mendez says that even if Nurmagomedov beats Tony Ferguson, McGregor may choose not to fight him.
You never know – Conor may decide that he wants to go to the welterweight division and challenge for that title. We’ve yet to see if Khabib wins against Tony, whether that fight will materialise. It’s gonna be what Conor wants. He’s in a position where he calls the shots. If Conor says, ‘I wanna fight Khabib’ – OK, fine. If Conor says, ‘I wanna fight Woodley or Thompson’ then that’s what’s gonna happen. Conor knows what he’s doing. He’s the boss so right now he’s in control…Ideally we would all like to see Conor and Khabib fight if Khabib gets by Tony. But that might not be in Conor’s plans.
As for McGregor’s skills:
Stylistically Tony is by far the tougher fighter. Conor poses a stand-up threat, poses no threat on the ground. Tony poses a threat everywhere. And for Conor, Tony poses a lot of dangers too. Tony is a very dangerous customer.
Nurmagomedov says that once he beats McGregor there will be no rematch, and he also says he will give McGregor a loan if he needs it.
After I finish [Ferguson], then Conor and after I finish Conor, UFC will maybe want to make rematch. But I say, ‘No, calm down. You have to stand in line.’ I came to the UFC to fight with top-level fighters and become the undisputed, undefeated champion. This is my goal. A lot of people fight with [McGregor] because of money. I can give him money if he needs money.
Nurmagomedov says McGregor is holding up the division, and that Ferguson is a stronger opponent.
Because he never defends his belts. He never [defended] his Cage Warriors belts, never defended his featherweight belt, and now UFC lightweight, I don’t think is different. But he has to defend. We’ll see. I don’t think about this too much. I think about Tony and March 4. This is the biggest fight in my life…I feel Tony’s tougher than Conor. Because if I take [Conor] down, fight finished. If I take down Tony, we have to fight. Take down Conor, what’s he going to do? His condition is very bad. His spirit, his heart is small. I think Tony’s tougher than Conor.
Ferguson says he’s frustrated by McGregor holding up the division.
It’s for an interim title. It should be for the real shit. Am I little pissed about it? Yeah. Is Conor going to defend his belt? Little shit. Probably not. He’s going to run. Go ahead. Go run. Go try to box so you can get your ass kicked, too, then when you’re ready to come back they’re going to strip your belt. At 155, I’m going to be holding that and you’re going to be like ‘oh I want my belt back’. I don’t give a f-ck. This is the real fight. The fight’s between Khabib and Ferguson. That’s the real deal fight…Honestly I could give two shits about it. He’s got his family, he’s got his things, he’s got his hands full. He’s a grown-ass man, he can handle his own shit. Same thing with me. I’m here to kick everybody’s ass in this division. I’m not going to excuse anybody of an ass whooping.
Danis comments on a potential fight between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, in the event that Nurmagomedov beats Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 in March.
[Khabib’s] too easily hit. If you saw in the Michael Johnson fight, he was getting like wobbled and rocked every time they were on the feet. So Conor is going to pick him apart like he does all the wrestlers. He hits you from everywhere and he kicks you in the stomach. And people don’t see those shots on TV, like some of those deep kicks and some of the kicks to the stomach, but those take the wind out of you. And when you basically have to take someone down, it puts a different kind of feeling in your stomach ad in your gut when you have to take the guy down. The guy’s beating you up on the feet, and when you go to the ground he’s elbowing you. So I think Conor puts him away in probably one or two rounds with strikes.
White announces that Ferguson will fight Nurmagomedov for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209 on March 4. At one point Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson seemed as if it was off the table, with Nurmagomedov claiming he was moving on from Ferguson who — according to White — was asking for too much money. It’s understood that Ferguson and the promotion came to a middle ground.
Nurmagomedov criticizes McGregor’s lifestyle.
Nurmagomedov says he doesn’t rate McGregor as a good overall fighter and he wins by taking fights that suit his style.
About athlete, about like phenomenal fighter, I don’t think [McGregor] is. He’s just a good boxer and he all the time takes fights, you know, like a good style (for him). Like Eddie Alvarez and Jose Aldo – like this.
Mirzaev, a Russian fighter with 17 wins out of 18 contests, is ambushed as he left his home in Moscow on New Year’s Eve. He is shot three times with a high-powered BB gun, including once in the face, in Moscow, as well as being beaten with a baseball bat and choked with a chain. Items were also stolen from his house. Mirzaev is in a stable condition after surgery to remove the bullets. According to a source, the argument got started when Mirzaev was in a club with Lobov, who trains with McGregor. The fighters were taunted by men from Dagestan in southern Russia who said McGregor was afraid to face undefeated Dagestani fighter Nurmagomedov. Nightclub staff stopped a full-blown brawl but the men “decided to finish the job” and were “waiting at his house”. However Lobov, denies the claims and the attack remains under police investigation:
I did meet [Mirzaev] in Russia. I am so shocked that this happened to him but [it’s] nothing to do with me.
Nurmagomedov says he wants to fight McGregor in Russia.
I want to beat Tony Ferguson, take interim bullshit belt, and after, fight with Conor for the real belt. I am famous in Russia and, we have to say, Conor is famous in Russia too. If UFC make a promotional tour all over the world, like Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, New York, Toronto, London, Moscow, Tokyo, everywhere, you know, make this PR programme…And, after this, UFC give me and Conor three months for preparing and make this 80,000 arena in Moscow – I think 100 per cent we can sell all these tickets. If I fight with Conor, I think the UFC makes this in New York or Vegas. Russia – not good for pay-per-view. Ireland – not good for pay-per-view.
Nurmagomedov says that if the UFC won’t pay enough, he will boost Ferguson’s purse with $200,000 of his own money.
Rogan says McGregor will fight Nurmagomedov next.
The UFC is about to go to Russia. They want to get in there. Conor McGregor versus Khabib Nurmagomedov, that’s what I think is up. Giant!
White says McGregor and Nurmagomedov could be the next lightweight fight. Currently, Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are in discussions to fight for the interim lightweight title in McGregor’s absence, but nothing is official yet.
We’re focused very heavily on Russia right now. First of all, there’s tons of talent coming out of Russia, and a lot of fans. There’s a fighter named Khabib who’s from Russia, and he’s insanely popular. The next fight could be Conor vs. Khabib.
Mir, a former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, says that the Russian MMA market is different to the USA, to McGregor’s benefit.
In the US a lot of people are more interested in the story behind what’s going on rather than what the fight is. I just think they watch the fight to see the result at the end. It’s an afterthought more than it is a primary drive, whereas you go to other places, especially like Russia where fighting is actually a passion not necessarily just ‘who-hates-who’. That’s why Conor McGregor does so well. He’s a good fighter but let’s face it: if Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and him face off, I wouldn’t bet on Conor to last even past a round. But he makes more money than Khabib because he has such a great mouth…Khabib has stayed true to his character, he’s a softly-spoken guy and I think he does all his talking with his fists and he’s not getting title shots and he’s not getting talked about in the US media as much. A guy who is 24-0, amongst the fighters we know he’s probably the best guy really in the world at lightweight. I don’t think anybody questions his ability to destroy guys and how powerful he is. But ESPN isn’t knocking his door down to give him interviews and he’s not doing commercials, Conor is…Conor’s making millions of dollars fighting and so I think Khabib now sees that and realizes he needs to start talking more. And here, he goes out and destroys Michael Johnson in his last fight [and] made him look like he shouldn’t even be in the top ten.
With Tony Ferguson appearing to drop out of UFC 209, Anna Jane Kesington reports that the interim title fight with Nurmagomedov has been offered to Diaz.
Nate Diaz has been offered an interim title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 209. The fight was originally offered to Tony Ferguson, but he was asking for too much money.
According to reports, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson’s interim-UFC lightweight title bout is “90%” complete.
Ferguson dismisses McGregor’s achievements,
This guy’s picking his opponents. He’s a paper champ. When you’re doing that, of course you’re going to be watching who you’re fighting…I can’t really see Conor as the champion. I see right now as if the title was open. Conor’s taking a step off and I don’t even like to throw his name in because the dude fought one person at 155.
And says he wants to fight Nurmagomedov.
I’ve been sitting here and Khabib, he’s been kind of inactive. I’ve been the most active in this damn place… I’m racking up points here, that’s all that matters. I’m gonna go down in the books as a living legend. That’s what’s gonna happen, I’m gonna be in the UFC Hall of Fame…I’m ready to sign on the dotted line and I think the UFC knows that. And I think it needs to be for that belt. I don’t think, it needs to be for that belt, damn it. Straight up, I’ve been putting in my time, I’ve been putting in my numbers. This is my time. Let’s get some heat going for this thing. Let’s do this for The Ultimate Fighter. We can do Team Khabib versus Team Ferguson, that’d be dope.
Despite his next bout being more likely to be with Tony Ferguson for an interim title, Nurmagomedov releases a mock up of a poster for a fight with McGregor in Russia. Asked whether he will fight Tony Ferguson in his next bout:
100%. There are already negotiations, 90 % sure it will happen. Why? Because Conor is pregnant, he has to give birth, and then recover until summer. I can’t wait until summer, I have missed out on 2 years of my career, I don’t want to miss out long periods of time again.
Edgar’s coach says McGregor still has to get past Edgar and Nurmagomedov to be considered the greatest fighter of all time. Henry:
I’d say he’d be the greatest if he beat Frankie and Khabib. Then I’d put him as the greatest. But until he does that, I still think he’s one of the greats…He’s never defended the featherweight title. He says he’s cleaned out the division, but until you fight Frankie, you haven’t cleaned it out. If he fought Frankie he’d be able to say that as he’s already fought Holloway, he’s already fought Aldo and he’s already fought Mendes. But he’s never fought Frankie. I think Frankie has been a staple as one of the best fighters ever. And he’s definitely a staple at 145lbs. It doesn’t matter that he beat Aldo and Frankie didn’t because you could say, ‘whoever beat Nate Diaz can beat McGregor’ and that’s not true. That’s just stupid even saying that.
Nurmagomedov says a fight with McGregor is not about the money.
I care only about belt. I have a lot of money…I want to take him down, speak with him, slap him, make him nervous … like, ‘Hey, get up! Let’s go! Where is your boxing?’ … play with him and make him give up. This is what I want. But I don’t want to finish him 1st round, 2nd round, 3rd round … I want to fight with him for 25 minutes like five rounds and I want to make him look very bad. And finish his hype.
He also talks about his run in with McGregor backstage at UFC 205.
When I finish my weigh in I meet him. He watch me I ask him, ‘why you watch?’. I tell him ‘I am not Eddie Alvarez or Tyron Woodley’. If somebody watch me like crazy I can go crazy too.
Nurmagomedov posts a private message he sent to McGregor.
Conor you the Champion now you need to fight with me. If you run every time you look in the mirror you not going to respect yourself, your kids not going to respect you, your friends, your family won’t respect you. Die like a Samurai don’t chicken out please. I know I’m bad matchup for you but you the champion and you need to fight the best. It’s ok. Die like Irish warrior don’t run like chicken. Irish people have history and fight for long time you need to represent your people with honor.
McGregor’s striking coach says he would like to see him fight for a third belt, preferring Woodley or Diaz over Nurmagomedov. Roddy:
Maybe [Tyron] Woodley,. For me, for him to go up and compete for a third belt [welterweight], maybe Woodley. [Nate] Diaz again is another great one. I think it’s what fans would want to see. They want to see something special again, the Diaz fight again is special. The Woodley fight is special…You can’t really doubt Khabib at this stage. He’s a phenomenal grappler and a phenomenal wrestler. But I don’t know whether the excitement is there, you know? Obviously for Conor it’s about the pay-per-views. It’s about the money. Whether Khabib will hit the pay-per-views for him I just don’t know…He poses a different threat so it would be good to sort of work out what strikes are going to land on him. He can be hit as well, I will say that. He got hit a bit in his last fight.
Henderson says that after watching Nurmagomedov fight at UFC 205, he would beat McGregor:
I think that kid that fought last weekend, I have trouble with his name, Magomedov, the Russian kid, that’s at 155 — I think he would definitely give Conor a huge problem. I think he definitely would take him down and beat the piss out of him…I don’t dislike him [McGregor]. I think it took me a while to kinda get onboard with him, just to see a little bit more well-roundedness. He’s always shown that he’s got good hands, good kicks, but to see him against a couple different wrestlers that had good hands, it took me awhile to get onboard with him. I think Eddie just did not fight a smart fight whatsoever. He didn’t use his wrestling whatsoever.
Lee says he didn’t realise that McGregor was in the stadium when he won.
If I knew Conor McGregor was sitting front row, I would have jumped the cage – damn…All Irish guys look alike. I wish I would have known. Somebody could have told me. They’re all just red beards and bald heads to me.
He also says that, as a wrestler, he has the skills to beat McGregor, and can beat Nurmagomedov:
[McGregor]’s the champ of this division now. I said it a while ago – I’ll be the champ. He’s 28. I’m 24. He ain’t got nothing on me but some years…I think after his last fight, he said you’ve got to have some height, some reach, some weight – I’m 195 pounds outside of fighting – 77-inch reach, 5-10, a hell of a wrestler, so this fight was about showcasing that I’m the best wrestler in this division…Everybody thinks that Khabib is the best wrestler, but this is good old-fashioned American wrestling…This ain’t that sambo shit. If you want to go out there, me and Khabib, no punches thrown, I’ll (technical fall) him, 15-0. I’ll keep taking him down, and he won’t do a damn thing about it.
Nurmagomedov’s trainer Mendez says McGregor is avoiding his fighter:
Yes, 100 percent, he is ducking Khabib. I know that from the words he is saying. ‘He doesn’t fight enough for my taste’? Give me a break. You can say, ‘Hey, I want to fight Nate Diaz a third time.’ Fine. Say that. But don’t try to put my guy down because you are trying to avoid him. Don’t belittle my guy. That’s bullshit…When [McGregor] fought Chad Mendes, I thought it proved he wasn’t ducking anybody. But now he’s doing this and I’m thinking he’s trying to avoid Khabib. I think Khabib, [lightweight contenders] Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson all give Conor a hell of a fight—but the guy who gives him the worst time, by far, is Khabib. He’s the strongest grappler in the division.
In a trailer for The Thrill and the Agony, Nurmagomedov tells Johnson to give up while he is giving him a beating:
You have to give up. I need to fight for the title. You know this. I deserve it
Then he trash talks McGregor to White between rounds.
KH: Hey, be careful. I’m gonna smash your boy.
DW: Just get through this first
Nurmagomedov tells White he will leave the UFC is he does not get a title shot.
Nurmagomedov says he was calling White between rounds to talk about a potential McGregor fight.
I talk to Dana in between rounds. I said, ‘Hey, don’t send me no more of your fake contracts, I need real contracts. ‘ So he said, ‘Hey, you have to finish this fight.’ I told him, ‘You already know I deserve this. After this fight, you need to send me a real contract.’ And then he told me to go finish it. After I finished fight I told him I’m waiting for agreement; maybe in Brooklyn, UFC 209, why not? February, UFC 210 in Las Vegas. Anywhere, it doesn’t matter. Russia, Ireland, I can fight in his backyard, anywhere. I know all of you know I deserve this.
After his win against Johnson in the UFC 205 prelims, Nurmagomedov says he wants to fight McGregor.
I want to fight your chicken Let’s go with your chicken. I want to stay humble. But I have to talk because the other guys talk too much and … I understand the crazy power the UFC PR machine has. [McGregor], at the beginning of the year he tapped like a chicken but at the end of the year he is fighting for the title. Crazy.
The Mac Life releases a video of McGregor and Nurmagomedov facing off after the UFC 205 weigh-in. Nurmagomedov:
F-ck this guy. F-ck this motherf-cker.
Nurmagomedov says that, despite being sent two separate contracts for a title shot against Alvarez at UFC 205 and UFC 206, he has been used as a negotiating tool in order to get the real UFC 205 main event over the line.
When I signed agreement with @UFC it was sport. Now it became a freak show, or I don’t know how to call it right. Only thing that keeping me in this cracking sport, is that I don’t want to stop on the halfway, I wasn’t raised like this, not a quiter. I’ll keep moving forward InshaAllah.
White says he plans to have Alvarez defend his belt against Nurmagomedov, and McGregor to defend his belt against Aldo. Nurmagomedov says he has signed two contracts to fight Alvarez: one for UFC 205 in New York in November and another to fight him at UFC 206 in Toronto in December. However, Alvarez wants to fight McGregor, and McGregor appears to want to fight Alvarez. Reports of a McGregor injury affecting the fight are dismissed by White:
Conor’s foot is hurt, but he thinks he can fight. I want him to fight Aldo.
Alvarez wants to fight McGregor, because it’s an easy fight and it’s a lot of money to fight him. But he has to fight me. Dana White has told me, ‘He is fighting you. He has to fight you.’ His record is only 2-1 in the UFC and he loses like a chicken to Cowboy [Cerrone]. How did he even get a title shot? I don’t know why he is so scared to fight me…I would have to be careful in the first [round] because he does punch hard. In the second, I would start to catch him and in the third, I’d finish him. Mentally, he’s already lost to me…All I want is 25 minutes in the cage with Alvarez…Put me in a cage somewhere with him and lock the door. Then I can show the world who the best really is.
Nurmagomedov says he should be given the title shot against Alvarez, not McGregor.
I want to fight at 205 in New York, maybe fight with Eddie Alvarez. I love this fight. I want to fight for the belt. All fans, coaches, fighters, analytics, everybody agrees and knows who deserves this title shot. I deserve it. I am No. 1 ranked. Why UFC put me on No. 1 ranking if they don’t want to give me title shot? Why do they make rankings? Conor McGregor fights in the UFC in a lighter division and the UFC wants to give him title shot? I think this is No. 1 bullshit. They cannot give him a title shot because he’s never fought with the top guys, like top five, top 10 in the lightweight division, and they want to give him title shot?..I’m still focused. If the UFC gives him a title shot, it’s okay. I’m a little bit not happy and at the same time I’m a little bit happy, because if the UFC gives him a title shot and he becomes lightweight champion and I win somebody like a top five guy, then we have to fight and he has to fight with me.
Schaub says Alvarez would not fight McGregor at UFC 205 because UFC will not pay him enough, and it is likely that McGregor will have to fight Nurmagomedov, and Alvarez will miss UFC 205.
From what I hear, Eddie Alvarez was complaining to the UFC brass that he wanted more money to fight Conor McGregor. He wanted pay-per-view points, he wanted a certain amount of money and the UFC, you know Joe Silva’s going out on his shield, were like, you wanna do what? Looking at the whole picture… if Conor wants that 155 belt, now he’s gotta get through Khabib Nurmagomedov. Who’s gonna beat that guy? Unless he beats himself. Unless he gets injured, no one’s beating that guy. I don’t see it happening, not even close. And for Conor, it’s the worst match up at 155. I think for Conor, it’s a tough fight, but I can see him beating Eddie Alvarez. Khabib? I mean that guy’s gonna be the champ. It’s very short sighted by the UFC. Pay Eddie more money. What do you guys fu*king care? Madison Square Garden, how much money do you need? Pay the guy more money. Unless he’s asking for like 10 million or some ridiculous number… It’s very short sighted.
In response to a fan question on Twitter, White says UFC 205 will feature Alvarez vs Nurmagomedov, not McGregor. No official statement has been released by White or the UFC regarding McGregor or Aldo’s next fight as of yet.