Khabib Nurmagomedov has revealed that long-term rival Conor McGregor is the only opponent he has ever enjoyed inflicting pain onto in the Octagon.
In a shockingly-honest warning to the rest of the UFC roster, Khabib also claimed that he tries not to hurt his opponents when in the cage, and instead prefers to convince them to give up with either words or physical warnings.
Russian-born Nurmagomedov is one of the largest names in combat sports, having taken the UFC Welterweight and Lightweight divisions by storm since his 2008 debut.
Quickly stringing together impressive victories against some of the sport’s biggest names – Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta to name a few – ‘The Eagle’s’ profile was boosted to new heights after he became embroiled in a bitter war of words with the sport’s kingpin, Conor McGregor.
The two eventually faced off at UFC 229, with Khabib winning in dominant and spectacular fashion in the fourth round, cementing his place as the highest rated fighter in the sport – and one of the biggest names in sports worldwide.
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Now, speaking on his past clashes and immaculate 28-0 record, the 31-year-old has given a candid breakdown of how he approaches each fight, and his mentality when facing off against some of the most fearsome fighters in the world.
“I had fights in my career when I understood that I could hurt my opponent more, but I’d talk to him, tell him to give up so that I don’t beat him too hard,” Khabib told RT Sports, when speaking to a group of school children.
“If I had a painful hold where I could break something, I wouldn’t tighten it all the way. I’d just fix it so that the opponent would tap out. Because I have no aim to hurt anyone in this sport.
“Yes, we compete in a very brutal contact sport, but it’s never my goal to inflict a lot of pain on my opponents. If I understand that I’m winning, I don’t aim to hurt someone bad”.
In the fights prior to his 2018 Lightweight Championship fight with Al Iaquinta, Khabib famously taunted his opponents Barboza and Michael Johnson, being heard to tell them that they had to give up so that he could get his shot at the title.
Despite his surprisingly level-headed approach to his fights however, the acrimonious build-up to his fight with McGregor seemed to add just that little bit extra for Nurmagomedov, with the fighter admitting that clash was a little different.
“Well, with the exception of one fight” Khabib added on to the above, with a wry smile.
“Let’s say in that fight, I beat that guy with pleasure I tell you”.