Conor McGregor issues stinging verdict on arch-rival Khabib
Khabib Nurmagomedov may have beaten Conor McGregor en route to retiring undefeated from MMA, but that doesn't seem to have been enough to impress the Irishman – who has savaged the Russian ex-champ in several since-deleted tweets.
One might have thought that Nurmagomedov wrapping his forearm around McGregor's throat in the fourth round of the most-watched UFC fight in history a few years ago would have brought some sort of closure to what had become an increasingly fractious rivalry, taking in parking lot fracas and heated press conferences along the way.
But in the more than three years that have passed since they met at UFC 229 in Las Vegas, the sport's most intense feud still burns – with McGregor again taking aim at Khabib in his latest bout of 'tweeting n' deleting' late on Sunday night.
According to McGregor's appraisal, Khabib's reluctance to move up in weight to seek further challenges, as well as what the Dubliner sees as a one-dimensional skillset, means that the 29-0 Nurmagomedov can never be held alongside the sport's true icons.
I will never debate a 2 time division CHAMPION fighter who has accomplished what you have (can't win that), but I will have to respectfully disagree about his legacy. And we know damn well, you were on deaths door with your featherweight reign beating all those little guys... pic.twitter.com/rhLFgXQBVq— Anatomy of a Fighter (@WillHarrisAOAF) December 6, 2021
In an extended Twitter exchange with documentarian Will Harris, of the Anatomy of a Fighter series, McGregor laid bare his thoughts on his biggest foe.
"Yes – good, not great," McGregor said when asked if he thought Khabib was a 'good' fighter.
"Low KO rate," McGregor elaborated. "Can’t kick whatsoever. Never moved up in weight class despite almost dying trying to make weight. Pulled out of fights multiple times. Retired early.
If there is a mount Rushmore of the modern MMA legends of the sport, they are going to mention Khabib and they are going to mention you. You two are tied to each other forever. You guys are Claude and Ray from Life. Just accept it. Bonded for eternity pic.twitter.com/DLiSDzm4jN— Anatomy of a Fighter (@WillHarrisAOAF) December 6, 2021
In my time around @TeamKhabib and his crew, I never once heard him say he was the greatest or wanted to be. In an episode in Dubai, Umar said that Khabib was the greatest and he made me take that part out of the video. The guy did not like that kind of talk when it came to him.— Anatomy of a Fighter (@WillHarrisAOAF) December 6, 2021
"All of which leads him to [be] a good fighter, not great. He’d a good few months – that’s it."
Harris pressed McGregor on his statements, particularly the weight classes statement – but McGregor noted that Khabib had previously missed weight as well as pulled out of several fights for a variety of reasons, while McGregor has competed two divisions outside of the weight class in which he first won a world title.
"Death's door? That’s your side," McGregor said when presented with a picture of him looking gaunt as he made the 145lbs featherweight limit.
"I never missed weight or pulled out once. And I ran through the division in the process. Finishing with the fastest KO ever in a UFC world title fight. My weight rise was done flawlessly."
Despite McGregor's criticism, both fighters are assured of their place in the history books.
McGregor became the first fighter to hold two world titles simultaneously when he bulldozed Eddie Alvarez in New York City in 2016 to add the lightweight title to the featherweight crown he won from Jose Aldo a little under a year earlier, while Nurmagomedov remains the only champion to have left the UFC unbeaten.
The pay-per-view topped by McGregor and Khabib remains by some distance the most successful in UFC history, although Nurmagomedov doesn't feature in any of the rest of the top ten – while McGregor features in all but two of them.
One is MMA's biggest ever star and the other is the sport's most dominant champion, but it remains unlikely that the two warring rivals would ever agree on such a statement.