Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor are arguably the two most divisively popular figures in the world of combat sport which made their first meeting a financial juggernaut. In that bout, McGregor lost but what took the headlines was the post-fight brawl that broke out between the contingents of the respective fighters and since then, the Irishman has been chasing the Russian for a rematch.
The melee which resulted after their fight at UFC 229 was a result of bad blood in the build-up to the match and post his victory, Khabib spoke extensively about McGregor insulting his family and faith. Since the fight which took place on October 6, 2018, both wrestlers are yet to take to the octagon. While there have been several rumours surrounding the return of the Irishman, Khabib remains adamant he will only return when his teammates are eligible to fight.
During a Q&A session over St. Patrick's Day weekend, which was attended and filmed by BJPenn.com's Mike Pendleton, McGregor was asked about a potential rematch with Nurmagomedov. Addressing the rumours of his return, the Irishman said that a rematch must happen because of the "dispute" that happened after their first encounter. The 30-year-old also gave his respect to Khabib for his sharp abilities in the ring.
"He's a formidable opponent, wrestled bears since he was a kid. He's put a lot of time in his standup work and it was a lot sharper than I anticipated it was going to be. I've got to respect that, it was his big moment. It's easy to do this once, it's very easy for someone to be given something and to do it just one time. It's like you put your absolute all into it," said McGregor.
McGregor went on to describe how his motivation might have dipped prior to their bout and he admitted that he may have not given his Russian opponent the respect he deserved.
"If you do it time after time and year after year, that's when the motivation kind of dips, that's when the dedication kind of lacks, and that's when people creep up," he said. "That's what I feel has happened here, I didn't give him his respect, I marched forward, I didn't give a sh*t, I got caught with that overhand. If I switched on, I would not get caught with that overhand in any form of combat. I'm very confident, very eager, very in shape, let's keep it going."
"Imagine almost dropping someone 'cause he almost got me, but he didn't drop me. I got to my feet, threw shots, threw a knee, and he shot for a takedown. Imagine almost dropping someone with a picture-perfect shot, a picture-perfect punch, and then shooting for the legs. You almost got the fight done and you shoot for the legs, stand up and fight."
The Irish fighter then recalled the incidents in the aftermath of their previous battle and said he must get a rematch against the current lightweight champion in order to settle their dispute.
"When there's dispute, there must be a rematch. There was dispute in my last one, I slapped his brother and his cousin on top of the cage, he [Khabib] tried to jump out and run. This is not over, so there's dispute, there has to be a rematch."