'I want that redemption': Conor McGregor intent on securing Khabib rematch (VIDEO)
Former UFC champion Conor McGregor has set his sights on rematching heated rival Khabib Nurmagomedov, telling ESPN that that he was a ‘shell of himself’ in their first meeting last October.
Nurmagomedov emerged with the fourth-round submission victory at UFC 229 in Las Vegas in what was a definitive performance from the Russian fighter after a months-long feud between the two fighters which saw both men tangle repeatedly online and elsewhere and led to McGregor’s arrest in New York City for attacking a bus carrying Nurmagomedov some months prior to the fight.
The result of the bout doesn’t sit well with the Irishman – and it wasn’t just the manner of the defeat, but as he said in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani late on Thursday, his preparation for the bout was incorrect. As was his mindset.
“I want my world title back,” McGregor announced to Helwani. “I want that redemption. The camp was incorrect. I learned so much from that. And look, knowing the commitment I had in that camp, and knowing the performance I put on.. He ran away for that first round, he didn’t throw a punch. He shot for the legs before he threw a punch.”
While McGregor did become the first fighter in the UFC to win a round against Nurmagomedov, the fight as notable for instances of the Russian’s grappling superiority as well as well as a moment early in the second round where Khabib fells McGregor with a thunderous overhand.
Still, McGregor wasn’t overly-impressed by what he saw in the cage on that October night.
“The first round I should have been talking to Herb,” McGregor says. “[Khabib] says he walking to me in the cage, there was not a whisper out of him until he ended up in a dominant position. The only reason he ended up in that dominant position was because I walked around with disrespect towards him because he was running around the cage.
“I switched off for that millisecond, he got that lucky shot. Even after he got that lucky shot – although it was a beautiful shot – even after he got the shot, I bounced back up and engaged. What did he do? Shot again.”
A broken left hand suffered in training this past summer has delayed McGregor’s return (which he says would have happened in Madison Square Garden in July) but with Nurmagomedov tied up with his upcoming title defense against Dustin Poirier, McGregor forecast a handful of potential possibilities to stand opposite when he returns – and there are some interesting names contained within.
“Whoever,” he said. “If you’re asking me who, whoever. If Dustin goes in and does it, Dustin. If Nate, Nate. Jorge? Jorge. I don’t know what size, I don’t know what Dana’s talking about, about size and all that.
“I don’t even know Jorge that well to be honest with you, I just seen the last two and I saw the Iaquinta bout.. but I don’t know, anyone. Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Holloway rematch, Aldo rematch. There’s so many bouts for me, so many. In reality, it doesn’t matter who.”
“It’s just about me getting back in and being who I am. Not a shell of myself. Not half committed. I was too committed in the gym and not committed enough outside of it. The training sessions were too serious, and then when I left the gym it was gone from my mind. I would go off into the jungle, and you cannot do that. You cannot be half in, and I paid the price for it.”