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Conor McGregor admits trash talk might have gone too far in lead-up to Khabib Nurmagomedov fight

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Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor might be the most prolific trash talker in combat sports but even he’s capable of going over the line when promoting a fight.

In the lead-up to his fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, the Irish superstar verbally assaulted the lightweight champion with personal remarks about his wife, his father and his religion. Nurmagomedov got the last laugh, however, by submitting McGregor in the fourth round via rear-naked choke.

Despite the result, Nurmagomedov leapt over the cage just seconds after securing his victory to go after one of McGregor’s cornermen while the Russian’s teammates engaged in a fight with the former two-division champion inside the Octagon as security scrambled to get everything under control.

While there’s certainly no love lost between the two fighters, McGregor can look back now and admit that perhaps the personal attacks may have gone too far when poking and prodding at Nurmagomedov in the days and weeks leading to their showdown.

“Some of the things maybe [went] too far but it is what it is,” McGregor said in a recent interview with ESPN. “It’s the fight business. At the end of the day, it went the way it went. That’s it.”

Obviously, McGregor isn’t exactly burdened with regret and he also points the finger back at Nurmagomedov for helping to ignite the fuse that led to such an explosive exchange of trash talk.

“It wasn’t just said. There were actions that led to what was said,” McGregor explained. “It didn’t just get to words. There was actions that led to those words. Like things throughout the course of the build up like with the Artem [Lobov] situation.

“Things that maybe slipped under the radar like it was me that began all this. Whatever, it did get very, very personal.”

As much as it might appear that McGregor is passing some of the blame along to Nurmagomedov, he’s mostly trying to put all that behind him.

Ahead of his return fight with Donald Cerrone at UFC 246, “The Notorious” appeared to be more subdued and his trash talk was nearly non-existent compared to the invective he fired at previous opponents.

His demeanor might change if he gets a second shot at Nurmagomedov—a distinct possibility if Nurmagomedov successfully defends his title against Tony Ferguson, according to UFC President Dana White—but for now McGregor is solely focused on beating him in the Octagon and avenging that prior defeat.

“I’m taking a backstep from that and I’m focusing on the skills. It’s a very skillful bout,” McGregor said. “He poses a specific style set and I pose a specific style set and it’s an interesting clash with two fully focused fighters and that’s what will happen in the next bout. I look forward to it, to settling it.”

Of course, McGregor couldn’t completely ignore the chance to slight the reigning lightweight champion as he continues to pursue a rematch.

“I look forward to that competition fully focused. You can see the shape of me. Everyone knows. No matter what, that man can run but he cannot hide from it,” McGregor said.

“Fear. He doesn’t want it. It is what it is.”