Conor McGregor has said that he was 'not surprised' to see Khabib Nurmagomedov announce his retirement from the UFC last year.
Khabib, who still technically holds the UFC lightweight championship, elected to retire from the sport following his victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, a fight which earned him the Performance of the Night award.
Given McGregor’s history in this department – he has announced his retirement from the sport on three separate occasions since 2016 – the Irishman’s comments may come as a surprise, but both he and Khabib have history of their own in the Octagon.
Following their fight in 2018, which Khabib emerged victorious from, a scuffle broke out between the two fighters and their entourages.
The resulting punishments saw Khabib suspended from the sport for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), whilst McGregor was handed a six-month ban.
‘Notorious’ has scarcely been seen inside the Octagon ever since, with the upcoming Poirier fight set to be his first since defeating Donald Cerrone back in January of last year.
McGregor, speaking to the Mac Life ahead of his upcoming fight with Dustin Poirier this month, said on Khabib’s decision: “How you could walk away at this stage is baffling to me.
“I was not surprised to see him scurry away.”
However, UFC president Dana White says that McGregor is as motivated as ever at the current moment, and with rumours abounding that Khabib could be tempted out of retirement, hasn’t given up hope that the two fighters could face off for a second time.
Speaking to ESPN earlier this month, he explained: “Is Conor the right opponent [for Khabib]? Yes.
“Listen, no matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor is not only one of the best in the world, but one of the best to ever do it.
“Right now, he’s as focused as he has ever been. I don’t know if this is going to be the same Conor after the Poirier fight. Like you said, Conor goes like this [motions arm up and down].
“But, if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Conor versus Khabib again, right?”