Search for:
  • Home/
  • MMA/
  • The Iconic Rivalry Between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov in The UFC- From Friends To Foes
Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov
Follow Us

Great rivalries are what makes a sport emotionally connectable to it’s fans as they come along with banters, debates, and iconic matchups. In a brutal sport like Mixed Martial Arts, it’s common to find dissension.

From Daniel Cormier- Jon Jones to Chael  Sonnen-Wanderlei Silva and many more, MMA fans have seen many heated feuds throughout the years. However, the rivalry between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov stands out for umpteen causes.

There was real animosity between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. It provoked their respective countrymen-Russians and Irish to come in full force to support the fighters. Unlike many rivalries, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov competed only once. That said, the rivalry went down even after the fight and continues to remain stored in the hearts of MMA fans. Here’s a look back to the classic rivalry.

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov Went from Friends to Enemies

When Conor McGregor blasted off onto the big scene, Khabib Nurmagomedov used to attend his fights and watch them live. The picture of the two posing together in a friendly manner might shock many people today.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor

McGregor was a dominant force in the 145 lbs division. He went through everyone to become the UFC featherweight champion. However, he didn’t have to walk through all at 155 lbs as he earned a title fight straight and knocked Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 to become the lightweight champion.

The relationship between McGregor and Nurmagomedov may had become bitter by then. Khabib Nurmagomedov also competed in the prelims of UFC 205. After beating Michael Johnson, he referred to Conor McGregor as ‘chicken’. ‘The Eagle’ also desired to fight McGregor, a wish that would come true two years later.

After becoming the UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, Conor McGregor went off to face Floyd Mayweather in one of the most lucrative boxing fights of all time. Despite losing his boxing debut against Mayweather, McGregor bagged over $100 million and stayed out of the UFC for more than two years.

Meanwhile, Khabib Nurmagomedov kept on rising the ladders and grabbed the (vacant) UFC lightweight belt against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.  When ‘Notorious’ returned to the UFC, he had to go straight against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title which he technically never lost.

Also Read | Why Did Francis Ngannou Leave The UFC? Exploring The Tussle Between Dana White and ‘The Predator’

UFC 229: ‘Notorious’ vs ‘The Eagle’

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov had become arch-rivals by the time they appeared at the UFC 229 press conference. The rivalry, however, benefitted the UFC as it became the biggest event in the promotion’s history.

The Irishman didn’t hesitate to unleash the most brutal trash taking on Khabib Nurmagomedov in all the media interviews and press conferences. Tagged ‘the darkest press conference’ in UFC history, the event clearly made Nurmagomedov vexed with his opponent’s comments.

It all went down to action when the UFC stars locked horns on October 7, 2018 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight started off with McGregor boasting off his classic moves and show boasting. He made the billionaire walk after entering the cage. Meanwhile, ‘The Eagle’ appeared composed and pretty much focused on his game.

Unwilling to touch the glove during the referee call, McGregor  and Nurmagomedov began the fight. ‘Notorious’ didn’t let his rival get him down easily and showcased sheer takedown defense. Despite all the efforts, Nurmagomedov began dominating McGregor unless the Irishman won the third round. Nurmagomedov lost a round for the first time in his career but had managed to land a massive right hand on McGregor.

Turning the tables in round four, Khabib Nurmagomedov put the richest UFC star in a rear naked choke and submitted him. Although McGregor had tapped out, Nurmagomedov was unwilling to let go off the choke until referee Herb Dean seperated both men. After winning the fight, Khabib jumped off the cage and went on to brawl with McGregor’s teammates, especially Dillon Danis. Meanwhile, the Russian camp jumped inside the cage and attacked Conor McGregor.

It was a massacre allover as as Las Vegas Police stepped in and took both fighters out. Things went to such an extent that Dana White feared about people throwing things inside the cage. The UFC announced Khabib Nurmagomedov as the winner and the retaining champion. But didn’t put the belt on him that night.

Aftermath of UFC 229

Following the loss, Conor McGregor announced his retirement on social media and went into a hiatus of more than two years. In the mean time, Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his titles against Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje at UFC 242 and UFC 254 respectively.  ‘The Eagle’ earned his 29th pro win against Gaethje after his father Abdul Manap Nurmagomedov’s death.

An emotional, Nurmagomedov, cried after his third successful title defense and hung up the gloves forever. While Conor McGregor returned to the cage at UFC 246 and knocked out Donald Cerrone, his arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov retired after a few months. The iconic rivalry ended with Khabib Nurmagomedov taking a lead over McGregor by 1-0.

Follow Us