McGregor on Khabib melee: ‘This war is not over’

MMA

Conor McGregor opened up about the now-notorious brawl that broke out after his loss to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October, offering his perspective in detail for the first time in a recently released interview with self-help guru Tony Robbins.

In the interview, which was taped in early-April, McGregor said he felt like he landed the evening’s last strike and expressed his desire for a rematch with Nurmagomedov.

“At the end of the day, I landed the final blow of the night, right on his brother’s eye socket,” McGregor said on Robbins’ podcast. “Although the match didn’t go my way, the fight went my way. And trust me when I tell you, Tony, this war is not over. If this fight does not happen again, if it does not get reset, it’s on them. They’re running away. I’m here for the fight and here for the rematch.”

Nurmagomedov beat McGregor in October by fourth-round submission. In the immediate aftermath, the violence spilled outside of the Octagon. Nurmagomedov, McGregor and their corner people were later suspended and fined for their roles in the melee by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).

After submitting McGregor, Nurmagomedov got into a verbal exchange with McGregor’s cornermen, then climbed over the cage and took a running jump toward them. Nurmagomedov and Dillon Danis, a teammate of McGregor’s, threw punches at one another while security tried to break things up.

Back inside the cage, McGregor saw what was going on. He ran in the direction of Nurmagomedov and hopped on top of the cage. McGregor was met there by Abubakar Nurmagomedov — one of Khabib’s teammates whom McGregor mistakenly referred to as Khabib’s brother — who also was trying to join the fight outside the Octagon.

“I seen him there, it was like a Christmas present,” McGregor said. “He was right there. I just smacked him right in the eye socket. We started fighting on top of the cage. It was broken up.”

Once down from the top of the cage, McGregor said he situated himself with his back against the fence in order to see any potential danger coming his way. McGregor said at that point he didn’t know who was security and who was in there trying to swing at him.

“What happened was, two of his teammates ran and jumped over [the cage],” McGregor said. “Right behind me. For me, with my mindset, it was fascinating for me to watch back. Because I got to a safe place, I was good. I got to a place where I was aware. I could see any oncoming threat and deal with it. They came right over my back. Right over my back.”

The two Nurmagomedov teammates whom McGregor referred to were Zubaira Tukhugov, who engaged in punches with McGregor, and Esedulla Emiragaev, who landed punches to McGregor’s head from behind. Security and commission officials separated the parties.

Then Abubakar Nurmagomedov and McGregor got into it again.

“The final one was the original brother who was on top of the cage,” McGregor said. “He broke free from the security, ran at 100 miles an hour towards me. He threw a right hand. As he threw the right hand, I threw a left hand. Boom. There’s an image, an aerial image, of the right hand just whipping by my face and my left hand just landing flush down the pipe. The final blow of the night. So, that’s it. I win.”

McGregor, 30, has not fought in the UFC since that brawl. He was suspended for six months, retroactive to the day of the fight, and fined $50,000 by the Nevada commission.

The NSAC suspended Khabib Nurmagomedov, also 30, nine months and fined him $500,000. Nurmagomedov is expected to return in September and defend his title against interim champion Dustin Poirier.

There is no timetable for McGregor’s return, and he told Robbins he wants “what I deserve” from the UFC — to get back in the Octagon.

“I just want my worth,” he told Robbins. “There’s a lot of politics in the game. The fight game is full of sharks. But I’m the f—ing whale, so I want what’s mine, and that’s what I’m gonna get — what I deserve.”

McGregor, though, is still angling for a rematch. He said he broke his foot 2½ weeks before UFC 229 when he kicked a training partner who was shooting in for a takedown. McGregor said two of his toes bent backward, and a doctor had to come into the cage and reset them. He said his foot swelled up “like a balloon” and that he probably should have rescheduled the Nurmagomedov fight but chose not to.

“I wanted to compete,” McGregor said. “I wanted to get in there.”

McGregor admitted to Robbins that he had “lapses in commitment” to fighting in the lead-up to that bout. And the injured foot made it harder for him to cut weight. McGregor said he was severely dehydrated and didn’t sleep for 48 hours leading into the weigh-ins.

McGregor added that he felt like his mindset was too defensive in training camp, which goes against his “attacking” style.

“I gave him my respect. Congrats, he won the match,” McGregor said of Nurmagomedov. “Let’s see what happens next time. I’m confident we’ll get it again. Let’s go again. I am humble in victory or defeat, no matter what. It’s a sport at the end of the day. A gruesome sport, but a sport.”

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