Conor McGregor is anxious to return to action by the end of 2019 and he would like nothing more than to see Khabib Nurmagomedov standing across the cage from him.
The last time McGregor stepped foot in the Octagon was last October when he suffered a fourth round rear-naked choke submission courtesy of the undefeated Russian, which cost him the UFC lightweight title.
McGregor has been itching for a second chance to face Nurmagomedov again ever since that fight ended and his desire hasn’t diminished whatsoever in the past 10 months.
“In my return fight, I want my world title back. I want that redemption,” McGregor told ESPN on Thursday. “The camp was incorrect. Knowing the commitment that I had in that camp. Knowing the performance that I put on.”
Before the fight even started, McGregor says he was competing at well less than 100 percent due to a broken foot that he suffered during his training camp.
Rather than pull out of the event, McGregor soldiered on but paid for it with his performance that night by facing a monster like Nurmagomedov when he knows he wasn’t at his best.
“You must understand my foot was a balloon when I walked into that fight. I’ve got all this footage backed up from that entire camp. I broke my foot three weeks out from that fight. My foot was a balloon,” McGregor said.
“I dove in on one foot. My foot was a balloon. My toes came out of the socket and a guy had to come into the cage and break them back into place, the thing ballooned out and I hobbled in there and walked him down and did not give two shits. That was with a bad camp. That was with a half-committed camp.”
Prior to suffering the broken foot, the former two-division UFC champion was already having a less than spectacular training camp as he got ready to face Nurmagomedov.
He can’t point to a specific reason for his lack of attention but McGregor knows he wasn’t attacking his overall preparation with the same kind of ferocity that led him to the title in the first place.
“I was too committed in the gym and not committed enough outside of it,” McGregor said. “The training sessions were too serious and then when I left the gym, it was gone from my mind. I would go off into the jungle and you cannot do that. You cannot be half in, especially in a game like this and I paid the price for it and that’s it.
“Although I had reasons and I had injuries, who gives a shit. Who gives a shit. What happened, happened. I know what I can do. I’ve done it before. I’ve done it before when I was doubted so I’m eager to do it again.”
The fight itself was a fairly lopsided affair with Nurmagomedov controlling the majority of the action outside of the third round, which McGregor won on the scorecards.
McGregor has a different perspective, especially when looking at the first round where he felt like he was in constant pursuit of his opponent, which then backfired when he gave up a takedown. The second round saw Nurmagomedov land a thunderous right hand that put McGregor down on the ground for a moment as the momentum continued to shift into his favor.
“He ran away for that first round. He didn’t throw a punch. He shot for the legs before he threw a punch,” McGregor said. “The first round, I should have been talking to Herb [Dean]. He says he was talking to me in the cage. There wasn’t a whisper out of him until he ended up in the dominant position and the only reason he ended up in that dominant position was because I walked around with disrespect towards him cause he was just running around the cage. I switched up and in that millisecond he got that lucky shot.
“Even after he got that lucky shot, although it was a beautiful shot, even after the shot I got back up and engaged and he shot again. But whatever, there’s many great things that I can take from that and I can come back and avenge that.”
While he had hoped to fight this summer, McGregor was instead forced into surgery to deal with a broken hand that happened during a sparring session back in May.
He still wants to return before the end of the year as McGregor looks to reclaim his throne as the best lightweight in the sport.
“I had a little road bump. I was preparing for July in Madison Square Garden. I was in phenomenal condition, mentally and physically, the best I’ve ever been,” McGregor said. “I learned so much from the damage I took in that last camp what not to do and how to approach this the next time. I was in phenomenal condition and then a little slip up again. I’m just trying to find that balance and get motivated again. I’m taking inspiration everywhere.
“If [the Khabib rematch is] there, that’s what I’ll take. If not, I’ll take whatever’s here and there’s plenty there. Multiple people.”