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Khabib Nurmagomedov doubts Conor McGregor returns to elite form: ‘This guy is finished’

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In many ways, Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to believe that Conor McGregor’s best days are already behind him.

This past Saturday night at UFC 264, McGregor’s trilogy with Dustin Poirier ended after he suffered a broken leg at the end of the first round. While the conclusion may have been anticlimactic, McGregor was already down big on the scorecards with two judges giving Poirier 10-8 scores after he dominated the first five minutes in the main event.

Nurmagomedov, who was watching while getting his teammate Islam Makhachev ready for his own headlining fight in Las Vegas, doesn’t see how things would have gotten much better for McGregor had he actually made it past the first round.

In fact, the retired Russian believes McGregor already lived through that scenario back in January when he suffered a second-round knockout when facing Poirier in their initial rematch.

“He have chance like second fight in Abu Dhabi. Nothing happened,” Nurmagomedov said in an interview with ESPN. “What was going to happen? Judges give for Dustin Poirier like 10-8. He like maul him on this [first] round. I think if they fight 100 times, Dustin beats him 100 times.”

Prior to UFC 264, McGregor had been louder and much more outspoken in his trash talk aimed at Poirier while also taking shots at Nurmagomedov after he retired last year and relinquished the lightweight title.

Despite ending his career with a perfect 29-0 record including wins over both Poirier and McGregor, the former two-division UFC champion claimed that Nurmagomedov “done nothing” in the sport.

In response, Nurmagomedov more or less ignored McGregor’s comments much like Poirier did throughout the lead up to his second straight win against the Irish superstar.

“It sounds like same thing that Dustin said, it’s just noise,” Nurmagomedov said. “I think it was fake Conor. That’s my opinion. Because a couple of months ago we see how he was nice. It looks like fake. That’s why this trash talk don’t work on Dustin Poirier I think.

“My opinion, it was his big mistake. He lose so much energy. He lose so much energy because he try to go under his skin. Don’t focus on your opponent. Why you have to focus on him? Just focus on yourself.”

After undergoing a three-hour surgery on Sunday to place a rod into his leg along with plates and screws to stabilize the broken bones, McGregor is likely looking at a long road of recovery before he’s able to even contemplate another fight.

“Without broken legs, yes, [he could be the same],” Nurmagomedov said. “But with broken legs, he’s never going to kick the same. With him, no, I don’t believe [he’ll return to the top]. Conor have good age [32], but what happened with his mind, legs — this guy is finished, but he’s good for promotion.”

Nurmagomedov can’t begin to predict what McGregor will ultimately decide to do once he’s healthy enough to compete again but he expects a bad outcome if he accepts the two most profitable fights available to him.

“If he want to come back, OK, make him fight one more time with Dustin Poirier and finish this guy,” Nurmagomedov said. “I think [that’s] what UFC going to do with him or maybe make his fight versus Nate [Diaz]. But both of them, I think he’s going to lose.”