Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s first-ever altercation re-visited

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s first-ever altercation re-visited

Conor McGregor’s bitter rivalry with Khabib Nurmagomedov came to a breathless end on a balmy Las Vegas evening in 2018.

As the Russian locked in his rear-naked choke, his latest challenger tapped out as the oxygen raced from his brain.

Slumped on the canvas, McGregor had lost the biggest fight of his career having been dominated by the relentless champion.

Barring a return from his third retirement in four years, McGregor and Nurmagomedov are unlikely to cross paths again – but where did their rivalry begin?

Incredibly, back in 2014 there was no sign of any hostility between the pair when they posed for a picture backstage after McGregor’s win over Dustin Poirier.

But fast-forward two years and things had changed as McGregor produced a dazzling display in New York to stop Eddie Alvarez and win his second UFC title.

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov first clashed in 2016

By now, Nurmagomedov was a potential rival as he climbed the lightweight rankings which McGregor now ruled.

The day before McGregor took Alvarez, he ran into Nurmagomedov backstage before the weigh-in.

As his coach John Kavanagh watched on, McGregor approached the Russian as a UFC staff member called for security.

A guard duly arrived and stood between the feuding duo as they stared each other down.

Nurmagomedov was eventually shepherded away by one his coaches, but not before he sent his new enemy a message.

“I will smash you,” he said. “I will smash you, you will see.”

As the future champion walked away, McGregor retorted, “Yeah, we will see”.

Nurmagomedov told McGregor what he could expect

The Dubliner looked to be on top of the world as he hoisted his two belts on to his shoulders after leaving Alvarez in a daze the following evening.

But his career unravelled as he was stripped of both belts and he opted to step into the boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather.

Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov, who beat Michael Johnson on the undercard of McGregor’s lightweight title victory, went on to beat Edson Barboza before winning the vacant 155lb title against Al Iaquinta.

That put him on a collision course with McGregor who returned to the cage in 2018 only to be choked out in the fourth round.

Two years on, Nurmagomedov still reigns supreme after beating Poirier last year and will defend his belt against Justin Gaethje in September.

And two years later he delivered

Few fans doubt McGregor would then resist the chance to come out of retirement for a rematch with Nurmagomedov, especially as the former champion believes his preparation was all wrong ahead of their first meeting.

“I will admit that the fight before UFC 246, I did not train properly and was not in perfect condition,” he told Bleacher Report.

“I will simply say I was not fully prepared. It proves that anything can happen in the fight game.

“You can trust that I will not make the same mistakes next time. I came out well, and in an instant, things changed. It’s as simple as that.

“Call it what you want. I am hungry today. Hungry like a man who has not eaten for weeks… when I set my mind to something, there is nothing I can not accomplish. It is that power of belief that makes up the winners.”

Only time will tell if McGregor gets his shot at revenge, but there may well be another chapter to this rivalry yet.

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