The rivalry between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor reached a new level during UFC 223 fight week.
A few days after Nurmagomedov confronted Artem Lobov, McGregor’s SBG Ireland teammate, at the fighter’s hotel, the “Notorious” one and his entourage crashed the Barclays Center — with disastrous results. On Thursday, McGregor attacked a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and other UFC fighters, and the Irishman shattered one of the windows by throwing a dolly at it.
While McGregor was attempting to get at Nurmagomedov, the end result of his actions was that scheduled UFC 223 competitors Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg were forced off the card due to injuries suffered in the attack. Additionally, Lobov was pulled from the lineup for his involvement in the melee.
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta in a lopsided five-round decision in the UFC 223 headliner to claim the lightweight title that once belonged to McGregor. While McGregor still faces charges from the incident and is due to return to New York for a hearing on June 14, recent events have only served to increase interest in a potential fight between the two men.
Nurmagomedov acknowledged as much following his victory against Iaquinta on Saturday night.
“They already promote this fight, right? I hope he’s gonna fight. We have to fight,” Nurmagomedov said at the UFC 223 post-fight press conference. “Make world tour — Tokyo, Moscow, Dublin, Los Angeles, Rio – big world tour [to] promote this fight and fight end of the year in biggest arena in world, Madison Square Garden. Or maybe in Zaire or Philippines. It doesn’t matter. He wants to become lightweight champion, he has to fight with me. No more of these fake champions.”
McGregor won the lightweight title with a second-round stoppage of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016 but never defended the belt. Before the bus incident occurred, UFC President Dana White said that he hoped McGregor would fight by September. Now, his UFC future is uncertain, though it seems unlikely the promotion would completely sever ties with its biggest star.
For Nurmagomedov, there is still unfinished business with McGregor, especially after what transpired the past few days.
“We have to finish this beef. He has to stop eating Burger King. If you want to fight, come. I told you guys, we’re going to make him humble,” Nurmagomedov said. “We’re going to change his game. Now only one champion, no more fake champions. No more champions who never defend the title. Now UFC have champion. This champion wants to defend his title.
“You want to fight, come. Inside the cage. Outside the cage. With or without camera. Without all this media, like man. He comes when lots of security is here, outside the bus, inside the bus. All you do is show off. Let me know. Anytime.”