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Conor McGregor ‘not surprised’ Khabib Nurmagomedov would ‘scurry away’ into retirement rather than fight again

Conor Mcgregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor may never get the opportunity to avenge his past loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten about the rivalry they share.

More than two years have passed since the lightweights went to war at UFC 229 with Nurmagomedov solidifying his reign as champion after submitting McGregor in the fourth round. The aftermath of that fight exploded into the crowd when Nurmagomedov leapt over the cage to engage with some of McGregor’s teammates while many of the undefeated Russian’s corner men ended up throwing hands with the Irish superstar.

While McGregor is now focused on his upcoming fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, the former two-division champion would be remiss to not address Nurmagomedov and his decision to retire following his last win, which would obviously put an end to any possibility of a rematch.

“How you could walk away at this stage is baffling to me but to each to their own,” McGregor told the The Mac Life when speaking about Nurmagomedov’s decision to call it a career. “There’s so many amazing fights out there. Even the carry-on around the Tony [Ferguson] situation, like I don’t care about nothing. You’re scheduled to fight a man. No matter what. Fights must take place. You can’t just scurry away from bouts.

“It’s been the hallmark of his approach. I was not surprised to see him walk away or scurry away, I should say. It is what it is. We carry on.”

While Nurmagomedov was successful in what might have been the final bout of his career—a second-round submission against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254— McGregor couldn’t help himself when it came to some pre-fight controversy that stirred up just 24 hours before the event.

“I don’t think he made weight the last time either out here to be honest,” McGregor said. “That was very skeptical on the scales. Very, very unusual behavior. But it is what it is.”

Regardless any supposed weigh-in controversy, Nurmagomedov got the win and then revealed a promise made to his mother that he would retire in the wake of his father Abdumanap’s tragic passing earlier in the same year due to complications from contracting COVID-19.

Still, as part of the two-week stint in Abu Dhabi, UFC President Dana White plans to meet with Nurmagomedov to see if he can entice the lightweight champion to return for one more fight.

White has made it clear that he wants to book Nurmagomedov in a rematch against McGregor, which would obviously do huge business for the UFC after their first pay-per-view became the biggest-selling fight in company history.

That said, Nurmagomedov has stated several times since retiring that he would have no desire to return to face McGregor after already beating him emphatically the first time around.

Because White is still trying to convince Nurmagomedov to fight again, the UFC lightweight title is still wrapped around his waist. McGregor believes that if Nurmagomedov has really hung up his gloves for good then his fight against Poirier should probably determine the new champion at 155 pounds.

“I feel it should be [for the title],” McGregor said. “I don’t think Dana’s going to be bouncing in to throw me a belt straight away with the way the year went and I understand that. What are the belts? I’m here to compete. Get some good competition in and the belts will come.

“The belt, I think maybe the next bout, is fair. I would have liked to see this fight but there were circumstances surrounding the man scurrying away to an extent. They’ve given him a bit of time. We’ll see what happens. It’s of no odds to me.”

As much as McGregor would gladly compete for the lightweight title against Poirier, he’s not putting much energy into a situation that’s out of his control.

Rather than get locked into a skirmish with the UFC over the stakes of his upcoming fight, McGregor is resolute in his commitment to beat Poirier in impressive fashion and then move forward with his career as he seeks to stay busy throughout 2021.

“I’m not going to get caught up in the politics of this business,” McGregor said. “I have in the past and it’s hampered me. So we focus on the bout ahead and that’s it.”

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