Khabib vs. McGregor


author:  Jacob Nelson | staff writer

I’m not writing this caption in a northern Irish dialect Wikimedia 

Truly a fight like no other

So, Connor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov happened two weeks ago, and boy, have things escalated. This wasn’t your average UFC bout. These fighters have been praised as two of the greatest to ever step in the octagon.  

They command attention with their fights and have brought Dana White and the UFC a boat load of money to go along with the attention. So, it seemed only logical to have these two step into a ring together and battle it out.  

For the last few years, these two have engaged in a very intriguing storyline. Both were involved in an attack that saw McGregor throw a dolly into a bus window, causing damage to the bus and injuring fighters on board. And later would see a similar reaction from Khabib post-fight, when Khabib jumped the ring and started attacking one of Conor’s teammates. However, for anyone that has been following UFC in the 2010s, you would know that it wasn’t always like this. 

Back in 2014, McGregor and Khabib planned a training session together, including the UFC itself tagging along. This painted a picture that McGregor and Khabib were actually good friends. In a tweet promoting Conor’s new apparel, Khabib tagged the Irish superstar in a tweet and asked where he could get one of Conor’s new shirts. After a bit of back and forth Khabib finally invited Conor to Vegas, where he wanted Conor to give him this shirt, Conor replied, “Let’s do it brother!! I fly out to Vegas tomorrow!! Hit me up and we can train”.  

A few years pass, with both Conor and Khabib indirectly supporting each other. This came to a halt in January of 2016. On Jan. 5, 2016, Khabib did an interview with ArabsMMA in which he said, “I think Conor is a good fighter, but if he thinks he can come to the lightweight division and have a chance of beating me, he is delusional.,” 

This was in response to the news that Conor was planning on moving up to the lightweight class (which Khabib was in) to challenge Rafael dos Anjos for a shot at the lightweight title. This angered Khabib because he had been battling an injury for the last little while and stated that Conor is only moving up now because he doesn’t have to go through me. However, the fight with McGregor and RDA never happened, as RDA pulled out weeks prior to the fight with a foot injury. This would lead Conor to accept a last-minute fight against Nate Diaz in which Conor was defeated.  

Khabib then returned to the fighting world and made his mark in a quick victory against Darrell Horcher. Khabib then stated that he will not be fighting over the summer as he observed Ramadan as part of the Muslim faith. This would lead to a unjustifiable tweet from Conor’s trainer, John Kavanagh, where Kavanagh stated, “Jesus loves knockouts, but Mohammed wasn’t a fan of summertime MMA? Choose your religion wisely, young fighters!” 

After months of jabs back and forth between McGregor and Khabib, including a short hotel stint where Khabib would get into an altercation with one of McGregor’s teammates, Artem Lobov, ultimately leading to Khabib giving Lobov a slight slap on the back of the head, we finally saw some serious action on April 5, 2018, where McGregor would attack Khabib’s bus by throwing a Dolly through the window. McGregor was charged, but later was released from charges. This lead to Khabib said that a fight between him and Conor “needed to happen” to settle the beef. After McGregor was told he would not receive a criminal record and would not have immigration rights impeded on in the U.S. the fight was finally slated to happen at UFC 229.  

The month that followed after was pretty quiet as the two fighters trained, with a few jabs from McGregor on twitter comparing his bout with Khabib to a Rocky film. The pre-fight press conference that followed afterward, however, was a different story. Dana White was quoted as saying it was the “darkest” press conference he had ever been a part of. Conor told Khabib that if he had gotten off the bus, he would be dead. 

This led to the eventful night of Oct. 6, where both fighters took to the octagon to battle it out. With Khabib emerging victorious after forcing Conor to submit, everyone had thought the fight was finally done. However, Conor’s teammate, Dillon Danis, and Khabib would get into an altercation that saw Khabib jump over the fence surrounding the ring and attack Danis. Khabib’s teammates would later jump into the ring and start attacking Conor as a form of retaliation.  

This aftermath has sparked all kinds of controversy surrounding the discrimination based on ethnicity and religion, with followers from many different religions coming out of the woodwork and taking sides in the drama. It also has led to talks of an eventual rematch between the two fighters. However, with Khabib and his teammates facing charges that would see their rights to travel to the U.S. revoked, some are saying they may finally get to see the dream fight in Russia that both fighters have seemed to want for a long time. 

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