The former UFC lightweight champion revealed he always wanted to fight the Notorious – but began to lose interest in the sport when he realised ‘I really didn’t enjoy this’.
Khabib first felt like it was possibly time to walk away from the sport when he beat Al Iaquinta to win the vacant belt over four years ago.
“If you’re not hungry, if you don’t want really this, you have to finish.
“For example, the last couple years, I really didn’t enjoy this. Even when I fought with Conor, it was a very, like, principle fight for me. Like, I really want to fight with this guy.
“Next day, after this, I really didn’t enjoy this. When I [began my career], I really wanted to fight, fight, fight – then fight for the title.
“I win the title, my fire begins to go down.”
The Dagestani wrestler said there were days when he struggled for motivation as he waited to discover who he might fight next while serving a nine-month suspension for his part in the post-fight brawl.
He added: “All this year [that I was suspended], I kept training, and I’m like: ‘What I’m gonna do next? I’m gonna fight with who?’
“Then they make the interim title [fight]: Dustin Poirier, Max Holloway. I remember they were fighting and I was waiting for my opponent.
“Okay, Dustin Poirier beat this guy. I [felt] nothing inside. ‘Okay, I’m gonna fight with you.’ It was the first time my father was going to corner me in my UFC career, and this one gave me little bit more motivation.
“[But in] this sport, if you don’t feel fire, you have to stop.”
However, he has instead submitted a counter-proposal, as he wants Paul to compete in his Eagle Fighting Championship.
He continued: “Come on, Jake Paul. I don’t think so. In MMA, like couple of minutes. What do you think? He can fight with me? He’s a little bit too late because I’m finished.
“Of course, we can think about this. I watched — it was sparring, or I watched some video where he’s doing, like, MMA with someone. He has to learn a lot.
“In boxing, he knows how to punch. He’s not bad in the boxing game. Anybody can box.
“You can box, too, but you never can wrestle. This is completely different. If he wants, we can give him a chance.
“We can sign him, and we can pay him, and we’ll see.”