'My fighting IQ tells me Conor is better standing than Gaethje': Khabib Nurmagomedov opens door to McGregor rematch (VIDEO)
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has admitted, perhaps for the first time, that he is willing to accept a rematch with heated rival Conor McGregor after complimenting the Irish fighter's striking technique.
Nurmagomedov came out on top of their first meeting a little under two years ago, submitting McGregor in the fourth round of their UFC 252 main event in a fight which was bookended by furious outbursts from both fighters - one in a parking lot in Brooklyn, and the other outside the cage moments after McGregor's submission.
Both men have cultivated the rivalry ever since, with McGregor keen to secure a rematch with the Russian champion. Khabib, though, wasn't quite so forthcoming with the idea of a sequel, at one point telling McGregor that he must win 10 fights in a row to be considered for a rematch.
However, it seems that Khabib's demands have cooled and he admitted in a press conference in Moscow early Friday that he feels a second meeting with McGregor is likely - or maybe even inevitable.
"Before the fight with [Edson] Barbosa, they said that he was my most uncomfortable rival, then they said the same thing before the fight with Conor, then with [Dustin] Poirier," Nurmagomedov announced to the media.
"They didn't have time to say that about Iaquinta, because they gave me a fight in a few hours. I am sympathetic to this, but journalists need to say something, to warm up their interest in battle.
"But I kind of agree that Gaethje is a very good fighter, if he was bad he would not have fought for the belt. Is he better standing than Conor? I think no. My fighting IQ tells me that Conor is better in standing than Gaethje."
The undefeated Khabib will make his latest defense of the UFC's 155-pound title in October against Gaethje. If he is successful, he says a second fight with McGregor is a distinct possibility – on one condition.
"Let him come back (and) defeat Dustin Poirier, then we will fight with him - no problem," he Nurmagomedov.Also on rt.com Gaethje names Khabib's 'biggest weakness' as he vows to create 'zone of death' in UFC title showdown