- Khabib Nurmagomedov has said he wants to fight Conor McGregor this year.
- Nurmagomedov was said to be the target of an attack on a UFC team bus earlier this month for which McGregor is blamed.
- An altercation between Nurmagomedov and McGregor’s friend Artem Lobov has been cited as the reason behind the attack.
- Nurmagomedov also recently won the vacant UFC lightweight championship title – a belt that once belonged to McGregor.
- McGregor turned himself in to the police over the attack and was released on a $US50,000 bond after appearing in a New York City court, but he is due back in the courtroom in June.
- Now Nurmagomedov wants to settle the rivalry in a UFC octagon.
Khabib Nurmagomedov wants to settle his rivalry with Conor McGregor.
The Russian wrestler won the vacant UFC lightweight world title when he beat Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 on April 7 – just two days after his UFC team bus was attacked in New York in an incident blamed on McGregor.
The UFC boss Dana White said afterward that McGregor wanted to reach Nurmagomedov, who was not injured in the attack.
White said the attack was retaliation for the way Nurmagomedov once treated Artem Lobov, McGregor’s teammate. Nurmagomedov and Lobov had an altercation at a team hotel on April 3. In video captured by MMA Focus, Nurmagomedov and members of his team appeared to corner Lobov and slap him.
What’s more, the championship belt that Nurmagomedov won earlier this month had previously been stripped from the waist of McGregor.
The Irish striker won the lightweight belt in 2016 when he knocked out the former champion Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, but he failed to defend the title.
Now, Nurmagomedov wants to fight the former king, McGregor, this year.
“We’re talking, but if it takes too long, I don’t want to do that,” Nurmagomedov said at a question-and-answer event in Russia, according to Forbes. “If he wants to fight this year, then we can fight. Otherwise, I don’t know. We won’t wait long. I want to fight Conor, and if he can fight, I will fight him.”
A bout between Nurmagomedov and McGregor was once described by White as “the biggest fight out there” – and that was before the attack earlier this month.
McGregor is accused of storming a UFC press conference, with authorities identifying him on video throwing a dolly trolley at a bus carrying UFC fighters on April 5.
The wild fight resulted in a smashed window and injured two athletes. McGregor turned himself in to the police, was charged with three counts of assault and one of criminal mischief, and was released on a $US50,000 bond after appearing in a New York City court on April 6. He is due back in court on June 14.
According to White, McGregor felt that the attack was justified. The backstory, drama, and rivalry means any showdown between Nurmagomedov and McGregor would most likely be a massive success at the box office – but it is not Nurmagomedov’s only option.
Nurmagomedov told fans at the Q&A event that his opponent was ultimately up to UFC. “I’ll just fight whoever they give me,” he said. “We’ll have to see. There are two opponents.” He added that Tony Ferguson was out, “so there’s Conor, and if it’s not Conor McGregor, then it’s Dustin Poirier – otherwise, there are no challengers.”
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