Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov were FRIENDS, wanted to train together and bought each other’s t-shirts before becoming the most bitter enemies in UFC history

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Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov were FRIENDS, wanted to train together and bought each other’s t-shirts before becoming the most bitter enemies in UFC history


The Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov feud seems eternal.

Despite the fact almost three years has passed since the pair clashed at UFC 229 – which remains the UFC’s highest-ever selling pay-per-view – the bad blood doesn’t seem to have settled one little bit.

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McGregor could not get past Khabib in 2018 and never got the chance to try again

But what is often forgotten is that the pair were actually very friendly before McGregor’s move up to the lightweight division in 2016.

Whilst the Irishman was a featherweight, Khabib had a healthy respect for him and the pair exchanged admiration over Twitter before meeting up and having a picture together.

Ironically enough, they had a picture after McGregor’s win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 178. That was back in September 2014.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor weren’t always enemies

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor weren’t always enemies

At that point, Khabib was 22-0 and had just beaten future lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos.

That’s the man McGregor would target once he became UFC featherweight champion in December 2015 in his bid to become the UFC’s first-ever double champion.

RDA would pull out of their matchup just weeks before and Nate Diaz would step in. We all know how that would dominate 2016.

Khabib supported McGregor early on

Khabib supported McGregor early on

McGregor reciprocated the love to Khabib

McGregor reciprocated the love to Khabib

They even organised a training session together!

They even organised a training session together!

When Dos Anjos returned from injury, he was knocked out in a round by Eddie Alvarez and lost his title.

That gave Alvarez the famous ‘red panty night’ with McGregor, who knocked him out in two rounds and made history.

Khabib, fighting on the same UFC 205 card on that historic night for McGregor, moved to 24-0 that night and 8-0 in UFC, but The Notorious completely skipped the queue.

In fact, The Eagle was meant to fight for the title that night. UFC withdrew the contract they sent The Russian to fight Alvarez once it became clear McGregor could take the fight.

He was placed on the undercard and was livid at the demotion.

McGregor is the first UFC fighter in history to hold two belts simultaneously

McGregor is the first UFC fighter in history to hold two belts simultaneously

At the beginning of the year, he tapped like a chicken, at the end of the year he fights for a title – very interesting,” he fumed, citing McGregor’s defeat by Nate Diaz in their first fight.

It seemed like the pair were on a collision course just given their records and standing, but McGregor had other ideas and was off making life-changing money facing Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor vacated his belt, but Khabib was unable to pick it up after two bouts with Tony Ferguson fell through.

By the time McGregor returned to the octagon, just shy of two years after his last outing, the bad blood between the pair had reached fever pitch and much of it stemmed from McGregor’s social media onslaughts after Khabib pulled out of a couple of fights.

Conor McGregor and Khabib was a fight years in the making

Conor McGregor and Khabib was a fight years in the making

Then, things unravelled between the pair. Once Khabib and his team confronted Artem Lobov, a friend and training partner of McGregor, it almost became gang warfare.

McGregor’s response to the altercation is the now infamous bus attack at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, during the UFC 223 media day.

As Khabib sat on a bus with other fighters set to compete on the card, McGregor was furiously searching for the Russian in the arena. Once he realised he was on the bus, he hurled a metal trolley at the window. The smashed glass would injure two fighters and cause them to pull out of UFC 223.

Khabib won the lightweight title that weekend over Al Iaquinta and a few months later, the date with McGregor was set.

Khabib arrived at UFC 223

Khabib arrived at UFC 223

At the pre-fight press conference, McGregor got personal with Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, bringing his son, Noah, into it. The level of research McGregor had done was frankly scary.

He even lambasted Khabib for the friendship, or respect, they once had.

“I’m going to to put a beating on him and his glass jaw. He bought t-shirts to support my cause, a fanboy.”

Conor McGregor came to the pre-fight press conference prepared

getty

Conor McGregor came to the pre-fight press conference prepared

That didn’t happen. Khabib forced McGregor to tap out in the fourth round and pretty much dominated the fight on the ground and in the stand-up, although, McGregor did take a round from Khabib according to a couple of judges.

The ugly events that followed are what defined the fight. Khabib vaulted the cage and attempted to assault Dillion Danis, a McGregor teammate who had been verbally attacking Khabib all night.

McGregor was also attacked by several of Khabib’s teammates inside the octagon. Luckily on both accounts, no one was hurt.

Speaking in March earlier this year, Khabib says wouldn’t close the door on being friends with McGregor.

“Everything is possible,” said the Dagestani fighter turned promoter.

“You know, the way we quarrelled, the same way we can reconcile. I think it is possible, maybe not just now. Let’s see, time will tell.

“I did my job. I responded to him in the cage. How else can I explain to him? I can’t speak with the words he speaks. I don’t talk that dirty language.

“I told him I will show him everything on 6 October. But about friendship, it is possible. Who are we to not forgive each other when God forgives us? I can’t tell you what is impossible, but right now it is what it is.”

Khabib retired from the sport after defeating Justin Gaethje and moving to 29-0. The primary reason was that he didn’t want to fight now that his father had passed away, and he had promised his mother he wouldn’t.

McGregor has since been embroiled in a feud with Dustin Poirier that has gotten increasingly personal, but the last fight saw McGregor break his leg and he’s now on the shelf until next summer, at least.

Khabib stopped McGregor when they met in 2018 at UFC 229

USA TODAY Sports

Khabib stopped McGregor when they met in 2018 at UFC 229

Still, the feud with Khabib rages on.

Following McGregor’s loss to Poirier, Khabib tweeted: “Good always defeats evil.

“Very happy for @DustinPoirier I hope you will get the belt end of the year.”

McGregor, in a now deleted tweet, indirectly replied: “Covid is good and father is evil?”

Conor McGregor hit Khabib Nurmagomedov with a low blow

Conor McGregor hit Khabib Nurmagomedov with a low blow

Close friend of Khabib, another former double champion in Daniel Cormier, says McGregor has gone way too far with the jabs online.

Khabib has to swallow it because he is not a prizefighter anymore, but the bitter edge that many felt McGregor had lost in the lead-up to Poirier II has now descended into a dark edge.

It’s safe to say Khabib’s optimism of friendship one day doesn’t look too promising right now.





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