Khabib mocks Conor McGregor over comeback win against 'finished' Cowboy Cerrone (VIDEO)
We are now just weeks removed from one of the most anticipated UFC title bouts in history when Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson finally collide in Brooklyn, New York, to determine the world's top lightweight fighter.
Both men will bring impressive undefeated streaks into the fight but Ferguson is thought to be the only fighter in the division capable of stifling the unique ground attack posed by the Dagestani grappler.Also on rt.com Running scared: Justin Gaethje manager denies Conor McGregor fight talks, says Irishman 'had that opportunity already'
And, speaking to TMZ, he appears aware of the scale of the task in front of him.
"I think, just my opinion, in the last couple of years I compete with guys like Barboza, Dos Anjos, Conor, Poirier, Iaquinta - all of these guys [are] not tough like Tony Ferguson," Khabib said.
"Before when I watch all these opponents I think, 'OK, I can beat this guy'. Of course, I work hard but right now this is a very, very tough opponent. We focus like always but right now we have more focus. Tony is not like these guys. He's a little bit more tough than all of them."
UFC president Dana White has suggested that Conor McGregor may well be next in line for a title shot following his brutally brief destruction of Donald Cerrone in his UFC comeback last month.
The Irishman's performance, shoulder strikes and all, was hailed for how clinical and brutally efficient it was.
Not surprisingly, Khabib refused to afford any credit to McGregor.
"Cowboy always loses all his main event fights. Always. I don't remember when he win. The last 10 fights, I think he lose seven times? Six or seven times. He is not a high-level lightweight or welterweight right now," he said.
"Of course, [Cowboy] has a big name but his time is finished. Conor picked a very good opponent. But now he come back and beat Cowboy who lost his last 10 fights seven times and then they talk about how this guy came back.
"No, he has to fight a really tough opponent like Justin Gaethje or something like this. He has to come back to the lightweight division, he has to cut weight. This is just my opinion."
McGregor has been linked with a summer clash with Gaethje, but his manager Ali Abdelaziz - who also represents Khabib - says that the American fighter won't consider accepting a fight with McGregor.
Nonethelss, it is a fight that Khabib wants to see.
"I think he's just ducking tough matchups, not only Justin Gaethje. Of course he can, because he's a big star ... anyways, let's talk about me," he said.Also on rt.com ‘We’ll have all sorts of traps and landmines waiting for Khabib’ – Tony Ferguson coach on plans to dethrone Russian UFC ruler
Of course, current paths seems to suggest that a second meeting between Khabib and McGregor is inevitable given Dana White's past statements on the matter but the Russian fighter says that any second fight will be a mirror of the first, and that he would prefer to take on tougher challenges for the sake of his legacy.
"I think people just want to see a continue of what happened last time. They just want to see drama. If you ask people, 'Guys, who is going to win?' 99 percent are going to say Khabib like he did last time. But people want to see how.
"This is not a real lightweight championship fight but if you talk about drama and money, of course this is good. For my legacy I have to beat tough opponents."