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6 Feb, 2020 13:15

Khabib slams UFC matchmaking as 'well-organized circus' after Conor McGregor's blowout win over Donald Cerrone

Khabib Nurmagomedov said the UFC's choice of Donald Cerrone as Conor McGregor's comeback opponent at UFC 246 was designed to help the Irishman get a win on his return, and that Cerrone was "mentally weak" in the fight.

Nurmagomedov made no secret of his disdain for the UFC's selection of Cerrone as a viable opponent to position McGregor for a rematch, and referred to the matchup as being in the "minor leagues". Explaining his criticism of the matchup, Khabib said he was simply pointing out what he sees as obvious, but others may not.

"I was basing it on how well they picked an opponent for his return so as to 'wow' people," he said.

"Why? Because 90% of people who watch MMA have no clue about the sport. They just watch it and don’t even know the names. And the other 10%...

"Millions of people watch, but there aren’t a million fighters. There are 300, 400, 500 that fight in the UFC. They have trainers, so let’s say 10,000 people that know MMA. They see who loses and under what circumstances, what moves, when he fought, where he fought, what organization. Few people know those details, others just don’t care who’s fighting and how, who he fought in the past, who the opponent is, they don’t know anything. They just watch the fight. And UFC works very well with that.

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"So they picked him (Cerrone) and their plan worked and people started to talk about it again, about a rematch and other stuff. Cerrone lost seven out of his last 10 fights. A man comes out 10 times and loses seven, and he gets called a legend. Well, let him be a legend, but his time is up."

Khabib said that the UFC's decision to select Cerrone deliberately swerved potential matchups for McGregor that would have put him in harm's way against legitimate, in-form contenders, and that there were other fighters more deserving of the fight than Cerrone, whose form heading into the fight was somewhat patchy.

"We’re talking about a contender fight, about a contender, a person who’s supposed to come out and fight for a world title," he said.

"There are other fighters who’ve proven themselves with their status, their convincing victories. There are other contenders, but (the UFC) went another route, one that’s more suitable for the media, the people, but one that makes no sense to experts.

"That was before the fight. After the fight many people agreed with me, but what you’re asking, that (my comment) was stupid, I agree. I just wanted to reach people, for them to understand what kind of an opponent they put in front of him."

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Despite his scathing criticism of the UFC's choice of Cerrone as an opponent, Khabib stopped short of saying the bout was fixed, saying that the risk of staging a pre-determined fight was far too big for an organization of the UFC's stature.

"A big organization with a lot of history won’t take such risks," he explained.

"If someone finds out that the fight was fixed, it would be a huge blow to the UFC’s reputation. They picked a good opponent though – an opponent that never won anything serious. He could have kept winning and winning and when it came time for a big fight, and just gave up because he’s mentally weak. It’s just a well-organized circus."