The UFC hype machine was in full gear Thursday even if all of the parts weren’t in perfect alignment.
Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former two-division champion Conor McGregor were scheduled for a press conference at the Park Theater in Las Vegas to hype up their upcoming main event clash at UFC 229 this Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. The presser was scheduled for 3 p.m. local time.
Nurmagomedov showed up at three o’clock. McGregor didn’t.
What followed was essentially two separate press conferences, with each man firing off a few verbal volleys before they finally get to settle their business in the cage. Below are the best remarks that the two had to offer.
On McGregor not being present at the start of the press conference
“I have to worry about myself. Why I have to think about him? He come or not? If somebody leaves, it’s not my problem.”
On whether he is still angry over McGregor attacking him in Brooklyn
“A little bit. If I say, ‘no,’ this is not true. A little bit I’m angry, a little bit emotional. But my job when I go to the cage, I have to control my emotions, I have to stay relaxed, but keep going and maul this guy.”
Is McGregor safe after some of the comments he’s made about Nurmagomedov and Russia?
“He can say whatever he wants. When alcoholic, some drunk guy talk, nobody cares about him. We just leave him alone, ignore him. And when we go to the cage, we’ll both see who gonna talk.”
Will he shake McGregor’s hand after the fight?
“No. No way.”
On whether this has become more than a fight due to some of the personal things that have been said
“Honestly, this is for me more than just defend my title, for me it’s more than just fight for the title, for me it’s personal. Of course, this is the biggest fight in UFC history. It’s going to break record numbers, we already talked about this. For me, it’s personal.”
On whether he expects to beat up McGregor for 25 minutes
“Maybe a decision. Maybe I’m going to finish him. But all the time when he tired, he give up. This is all the time. Like before fights, he talk like, ‘I’m ready for this. I’m ready for this,” when he fight with Diaz, when he fight Mayweather. But when he tired, he give up all the time.”
On if he was disappointed about Nurmagomedov leaving before McGregor arrived
“I did not plan this. I tried to get here. Like I said, I’m only a couple of minutes late for f**k’s sake. That mad backwards c**t, he should have just stayed put, but whatever, that’s a sign. He doesn’t want to be around me. He doesn’t want to be around these people. He is petrified and that’s it. He said nothing in New York and I guarantee he was saying s**t while I wasn’t here, so that’s the truth of it all.”
Where would a win on Saturday rank among his career accomplishments?
“It’s another day. Setting the bar high and knocking it out of the park. I plan on knocking that man’s nose straight into the nosebleeds. That’s what’s gonna happen on Saturday night.”
On preparing for a fighter with Nurmagomedov’s dominant grappling style
“I’ve been grappling and wrestling much heavier men this whole camp. 200 pounders. Even only yesterday, 200 pounders, 25 minutes straight, I have cut no corners here. I am ready for all outcomes. I feel once I hit him he’s going to turn weak. I expect panic in him early. But we have prepared for every outcome.
“I also don’t give a bollocks. I’ve experienced it all. I’ve gotten f**king tired in there, I’ve been in my back in there, I’ve been in every scenario you can be in under the brightest lights in the entire world.”
On his feud with Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz
“His manager is a f**king snitch terrorist rat and that’s it. I could go into heavy detail... and I will! He was pulled off of a flight going from Cairo, Egypt, to New York City on September 11, 2001. He was caught with fake passports in his possession. He turned informant and turned on the people that he was working with. He is a — I don’t even know how that man is in this f**king country.”
“I’d like to fight Ali. I’d like to fight that rat bastard. I’d like to fight him somewhere. What’s he at? Mouth out of him, non-stop. I hear he’s had a few fights. I may want to spark Khabib and headline that Madison Square Garden card, November 3, so that’s less than a month away from this one. I may want to do that one, that’s what I’m thinking of to be honest.”
Does he think the Irish fans have affected Nurmagomedov mentally?
“F**k him and his mentality. I don’t give a f**k about him. My heart is black towards this man, towards his team, towards his people. I can truly see the inside of that man’s head and smile. I don’t give a f**k about him or his people. Like I said, there is way deeper s**t than just a fight on Saturday night, so I’m here, I’m going to settle this the noble way myself and then see what happens after that.”
“I am ruthless here. I am coming to put a hole in this man’s skull, dig my knuckle into his orbital bone, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
On whether or not he will squash his beef with Nurmagomedov after the fight
“F**k peace. There will never be peace here. I always said you should aim for peace, but if you can’t aim for peace, aim between the eyes. And that’s it. I’m going to aim right between that man’s eyes and this is never over. Never, ever, ever over.”
Who got the better of Thursday’s UFC 229 press conference?
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