Fighting the trend: Khabib & McGregor finish ahead of Putin in Russia's Google Search 2018 list
UFC stars Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor are proud warriors inside the octagon, but have claimed their biggest victory outside it - finishing ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Google's 2018 most-searched list.
Khabib and Conor's barnstorming October 7 UFC lightweight title dust-up came fourth in Google's 2018 trend list of most searched events for the year, one ahead of the fifth-placed Russian Presidential election on March 18, in which Putin was re-elected for a second consecutive term as president with a landslide 77 percent of votes.
The most-searched event in Russia was this summer's 2018 World Cup, held for the first time in the country, followed by the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the tragic Kemerovo shopping mall fire which claimed the lives of more than 60 people.
Champ Khabib himself ended the year with another title to complement his UFC belt, topping Google's individual name searches, ahead of second place Meghan Markle, the former actress who this year became the Duchess of Sussex after her Royal wedding to Prince Harry of England.
The top five of that individual trend list perhaps makes for the most eclectic collection of dinner party guests ever fathomed; joining the company of Khabib and Meghan is Belarusian vice girl 'Nastya Rybka', real name Anastasia Vashukevich, who was detained in Thailand on charges of 'indecency, conspiracy and belonging to a secret society'.
She allegedly agreed a deal with the US for asylum in exchange for information linking Russian oligarchs to alleged interference in the US presidential election of Donald Trump.
Behind that trio is the political pairing of Communist Party Russian Presidential election candidate Pavel Grudinin in fourth place and, last but certainly not least, is Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic completing the top 5, the unlikely darling of the World Cup 2018.
Regarding that particular bundle of personalities, behind each name’s rise to public attention, or, as the case may be for some, notoriety, is a strong tie with another major player in their sphere, that provided a springboard from fringe fame to household name.
Dagestan native Khabib's 4th-round stoppage victory over the brash Irish superstar McGregor - perhaps the biggest name in world sport - was described as the most groundbreaking event in the promotion's history in the headline event of the UFC 229 event in Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena.
Such a feat could only be possible with McGregor's fast-talking, cocksure walking attitude, acerbic trash talk, influence, pull, and general ability to spark intrigue and spew vitriol, which was accentuated and polarized by Khabib's calculated and reserved manner.
Grudinin gathered 12 percent of the vote in Russia's elections, coming runner-up by a distance to Putin, and in the case of Grabar-Kitarovic, she became one of the most unlikely heroes of the World Cup by following her band of Balkan idols all the way to an even more unlikely final, the first in the country’s history, led by eventual Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric.Also on rt.com 5 times Croatian President Grabar-Kitarovic won hearts at the World Cup (PHOTOS)
The image of her tearful presentation of the tournament's Golden Ball to the country's captain Modric, awarded to its best player, among the torrential rain of Luzhniki Stadium, is already consigned to World Cup immortality.
The Croatian president also gifted Putin a Croatian football shirt which bore his name on the back, melting hearts further during the World Cup.
McGregor and Putin were snapped together at that final, with 'The Notorious' being invited as a guest of honor by Putin in the stadium's VIP lounge. Never one to turn down a publicity opportunity, McGregor posted a picture of the two on Instagram, calling Putin "one of the greatest leaders of our time".
Khabib had to wait until after his win over Conor - and also his over-the-Octagon spring and brawl with McGregor teammates - Khabib, joined by his father Abdulmanap, had a sat down with Putin, in which the Russian premier congratulated both on a "worthy" victory, and excused the fighter for his post-fight behavior.Also on rt.com Khabib meets Putin: Russian president congratulates UFC champ on ‘worthy’ victory
Google also released the top names searched at the Russia 2018 World Cup, which unsurprisingly consisted of exclusively names of Russia team figures. Number one was quite fittingly Igor Akinfeev, known for his heroic penalty save in the second round shootout against Spain that clinched victory for his team, followed by colossal striker Artem Dzyuba in second.
Wonderkid Aleksandr Golovin was third, Brazil-born defender Mario Fernandes came in fourth, and the boss of them all - manager Stanislav Cherchesov - who guided the team to a best-ever quarter-final finish at their home finals, was fifth.