- Khabib Nurmagomedov talks to his opponents during fights and pleads for them to give up for their own safety, he has said.
- The Russian wrestler, unbeaten in 28 bouts, told RT Sport he does his out of mercy because he does not want to inflict unnecessary pain on other fighters.
- He did, however, say there was one fighter he did enjoy punishing: Conor McGregor.
- “I beat that guy with pleasure, I’ll tell you.”
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Nurmagomedov, the UFC lightweight champion, has barely been tested in 28 professional fights, winning all of them in mostly dominant fashion.
During his time in the cage, he can often be heard talking to his opponents, telling them to just give up and let him win. He says he does this to save them from taking a sustained and punishing beating.
“I had fights in my career where I understood that I could hurt my opponent more, but I’d talk to him, tell him to give up so that I don’t beat him too hard,” Nurmagomedov told RT Sport.
“For example, if I had a painful hold where I could break something, I wouldn’t tighten it all the way. I’d just fix it so that the opponent would tap out because I have no aim to hurt anyone in this sport.
“Yes, we compete in a very brutal contact sport,” he said. “But it’s never my goal to inflict a lot of pain on my opponent. If I understand that I’m winning, I don’t aim to hurt someone bad. Well, except for one fight.”
That was his UFC 229 victory over McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in 2018. Nurmagomedov dropped McGregor with a thudding right hand in the second round, dominated him, then submitted him for good with a tight neck crank in the fourth.
“In the last couple of years, I’ve gone out there and won, and it doesn’t bring me any real joy with the exception of one fight,” he added. “In that fight, I beat that guy with pleasure, I’ll tell you.”
McGregor has chased a rematch with Nurmagomedov since that conclusive defeat, and is linked with a UFC comeback in 2020.
The Irish striker will have to work, fight multiple times, and rack up the wins if he ever wants to have a chance at fighting Nurmagomedov for a second time, though, and even then there’s no guarantee he’ll share the Octagon with the Russian again.
Nurmagomedov hinted earlier this week he’d rather retire than fight McGregor.
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