UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor were both in attendance at Luzhniki Stadium for the World Cup final in Moscow, but anyone hoping for some sort of direct interaction between the two will have to wait.
From Nurmagomedov’s perspective, any confrontation would have been a waste given that they are not officially signed to fight each other despite constant rumors that the two are on a collision course. He told Championat that he’s much more interested in meeting McGregor in the Octagon than rubbing shoulders with him at a football match.
“I thought I’d meet McGregor at the Luzhniki Stadium,” Nurmagomedov said (transcription and translation per Express.co.uk). “But even if we meet now, we still will not be able to find out who is stronger. If there was a cage in the middle of the arena, it would be more interesting. And now something to find out on the street and so on. We are not at that age and not in that position.
“It would be ideal if there were no one around. Or vice versa — to the full stadium, in the middle of the cage, and in it — we. In general, I see no reason to approach him now. We are hospitable people. Let the football look, enjoy Russia.”
Nurmagomedov won a vacant title at UFC 223 in April, a situation that was created by McGregor’s absence from MMA (a hiatus that is approaching two years) and his involvement in an incident leading up to that pay-per-view event in Brooklyn. “The Notorious” and a gang attacked a bus filled with fighters backstage at the Barclays Center following a UFC media event, shattering a window and causing injuries to Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg.
The attack is believed to have been motivated by McGregor’s beef with Nurmagomedov and was possibly retaliation for Nurmagomedov and his team getting into an altercation with McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov. That proved to be the last straw for officials, who declared that Nurmagomedov would be the undisputed lightweight champion should he be victorious at UFC 223.
With Nurmagomedov on top of the 155-pound division and McGregor’s timetable for a return still undetermined, the undefeated Russian is content to look at other options.
”The winner deserves a title shot. About Tony Ferguson, I don’t know. He has surgery but if he can [fight], why not? Tony Ferguson is the biggest matchup for me. It is the match I want.”