MMA

McGregor + Khabib will be on Fight Island – history of their meetings

Bus attacks, post-fight brawls and bloody beatdowns: Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s rivalry is the most intense in sport… and after more than 800 days apart they’ll soon FINALLY be on Fight Island at the same time at UFC 257

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov will attend UFC 257 on Fight Island in January 
  • Conor McGregor is headlining main event in rematch with Dustin Poirier 
  • Plenty of intrigue will surround Irishman’s interactions with Khabib  
  • Their rivalry has been venomous but seems to have cooled in recent months  

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov have spent most of their time since the infamous UFC 229 post-fight brawl thousands of miles apart.

And it was probably for the best as for a spell it seemed that whenever they entered the same air space it became combustible and mayhem could follow. 

More than 800 days have passed since that unforgettable, chaotic night in Las Vegas where all hell broke loose but both men will be in the same room again on January 23.

Chaos tends to break out when Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) is in the same room as Conor McGregor (right) as they may well be again on January 23  

The Dagestani fighter jumped from the octagon at UFC 229, sparking a mass brawl

Khabib has now retired but Dana White believes he can talk him into a return to action

McGregor is headlining UFC 257 in a rematch with Dustin Poirier, a bout which Khabib, who retired after beating Justin Gaethje, believes will decide the next 155-pound champion. 

The Russian will be on Fight Island to help his cousin Umar prepare for his UFC debut, on the undercard of McGregor vs Poirier.   

‘Umar’s debut has been postponed three times’, Khabib told MatchTV. ‘His fight will take place on January 23 in Abu Dhabi. I hope that he still performs.

‘Umar has long been a UFC-level fighter: he is 24 years old and ready for big challenges. I will be with him, help as much as I can, advise, fight with him myself, control the preparation process. So January 23rd is a big day for our team and our family.’

Khabib is also expected to hold talks with Dana White while both men are enclosed in the UFC’s bio-secure bubble on Fight Island. 

The promotion’s president is expected to try and talk the undefeated star back from retirement and the fact that McGregor is fighting, may get the juices flowing for Khabib. 

Their first battle was the best-selling UFC pay-per-view fight in history when Khabib sunk in a neck crank in the fourth round. The rage burned inside him that night and compelled him to jump the cage after securing his win, attacking Dillon Danis and sparking the melee. 

Two years have passed and tensions soothed but there’s no telling how both men will react if they cross paths on Fight Island, or if McGregor orchestrates a confrontation. 

Dana White is accustomed to playing peace-maker between McGregor and Khabib 

McGregor suffered defeat by Khabib in their 2018 title fight for the lightweight belt 

They have a long history of conflict that has a genesis in 2015. McGregor was preparing to fight Jose Aldo and Khabib said: ‘I like Conor McGregor but if he comes to 155lbs then in four minutes, I will smash him.

‘It would be no problem. He’s an exciting guy and I like him. I think he can beat Jose Aldo, maybe finish him. A lot of people think Jose Aldo will beat him but, in my opinion, I think he kills him. But if he comes to 155lbs, welcome!’

It was the following year that the pair would clash publicly for the first time. McGregor beat Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title on the same night Khabib demolished Michael Johnson. 

Tension between Khabib and McGregor spilled over at the ceremonial weigh-ins prior to fight night. 

Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz later explained on the MMA Hour: ‘We were walking at the official (UFC 205) weigh-in – it was me, Khabib, Conor and his team. Conor was beefing with Woodley and after that we walked by and Conor starts saying, ‘What! What!’ and Khabib ran straight to him and said, ‘I’ll smash your face, you chicken.’ I’ll be honest with you, that’s the truth.’


McGregor beat Donald Cerrone in January 2020 and is returning against Dustin Poirier

McGregor then took a year out to fight Floyd Mayweather but traded barbs with Khabib on Twitter at the start of 2018 and things really came to a head the week of UFC 223. 

A few days before the fight, Khabib confronted McGregor’s training partner and friend Artem Lobov in a hotel lobby and allegedly slapped him. 

On April 5, McGregor and a group of friends who had caught wind of the incident and jetted across the Atlantic, snuck in to media day ahead of the event. 

They made their way into the lobby and attacked a bus about to leave with Khabib and a number of other fighters on board. 

McGregor threw a metal dolly at the window, causing damage to some inside, including Michael Chiesa, who needed stitches. 

The Dubliner escaped felony charges and was given community service. Then in August that year, his fight with Khabib was announced. 

They shared the stage at Radio City Music Hall for the first promotional press conference ahead of the event. 

McGregor tried to kick Khabib at the final face-off before they met for real in the octagon

McGregor verbally attacked Khabib, his manager and father Abdulmanap also calling his opponent a ‘backwards c***’ for refusing a drink of his whisky. 

The second press conference saw Khabib walk out when McGregor turned up late. 

And the final time they came face-to-face before fight night, McGregor slapped Khabib’s fist and attempted to kick him before security intervened. 

Of course, it was the fight and aftermath that looms large in the mind of everyone who witnessed it. 

McGregor was attacked by members of Khabib’s entourage inside the cage and the Dagestani sparked the chaos with his two-footed leap from the cage towards Dillon Danis. 

Both were banned and suspended but the ill-feeling was still there. Khabib has been bombarded by questions about a rematch ever since, despite going on to firm up his legacy with impressive wins over Poirier and Gaethje. 

His coach, Dana White and plenty of fans believe Khabib will be back at some point and his competitive drive to compete will bring him back to the cage. 

If that’s the case, it is hard to envisage a scenario where he and McGregor do not lock horns again. 

Tensions have cooled, particularly following Khabib’s father’s death earlier this year following complications stemming from coronavirus. 

Khabib is insistent that he is retired but White will try to persuade him out of it 

McGregor posted a message of condolence on Twitter and perhaps there is not the level of animosity there once was. 

But with so much history and bad blood, there’s no telling how it might play out on Fight Island, even with Khabib attending purely as an observer. 

They may not even be in the arena at the same time, fight week could go off without a hitch with McGregor laser-focused on Poirier. 

Or this could be the start of the next chapter of a rivalry for the ages.  




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