Khabib Nurmagomedov appears to have changed his mind about a rematch with Conor McGregor.
Ahead of his lightweight title showdown with Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, the division’s champion is now ever so slightly softening his stance about meeting his long term rival.
We now know that McGregor will face Dustin Poirier in his latest UFC comeback and The Eagle has suggested that if the bout happens at 155lbs, it could have some ramifications to the lightweight title picture further down the line.
However, if it happens at 170lbs like his last bout with Donald Cerrone, McGregor can kiss goodbye to hopes of fighting for his belt.
“If he beats [Poirier] at 155, it makes sense, but if they fight at 170, how can you fight at 170 and next fight you can fight at 155? They want to make everything easy,” Khabib told the Real Quick With Mike Swick Podcast.
“If you want to take the easy way, you never deserve the next title shot.
“Remember, before I fought him, I told him, ‘I’m going to make you humble, and I’m going to put you in line,’” Nurmagomedov said.
“Now, after two years, people understand my word. I’m going to put him in line, and I’m going to make the decision. If he fights 170, bye-bye.”
Khabib submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their UFC 229 meeting in a fight that ended in controversial circumstances with a mass brawl spoiling the night.
The Irishman, though, has spent part of his week explaining to fans his recollection of the actual fight.
Asked to explain why he feels the first round belong to him, he replied it was the result of damage he inflicted.
“Back hands forced him to the fence,” he tweeted. “Knee into neck as he shot, after 15 seconds of opening bell. Heavy elbow right into his temple as he froze after his shot.
“Repeated clatters to the temple while he tries his mermaid wrap leg. Round one was pitiful from him. Round two saved him.”
One of Khabib’s former teammates, the recently retired Daniel Cormier, believes Khabib would eventually want the fight with McGregor.
Of course, the Russian has taken great pleasure in making McGregor wait, but as Cormier makes clear, Khabib must be tempted knowing he can beat McGregor and make a lot of money in the process.
“Before, I thought, sure, say you don’t want to fight him, but then go beat the guy. I think you should, because you already won, you make a ton of money, it makes sense.
“But I just don’t know if he’s going to do it. He wants to focus on Justin Gaethje, and it’s just a lot.”
Cormier added he feels the American is the most dangerous opponent possible to disrupting his perfect 28-0 record.
A win for the champion would move to 29-0 and he’s teased retiring at 30-0 where his final fight could well be against Georges St-Pierre.
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