UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is one of the promotion’s most modern dominating champions, holding an unbeaten record and overwhelming nearly every opponent he’s faced in the Octagon.
But Nurmagomedov says there’s only one opponent he’s ever gotten joy out of mauling, and that’s arch-nemesis Conor McGregor.
“In the last couple of years, I’ve gone out there and won, and it doesn’t bring me any real joy to be honest…well, with the exception of one fight, let’s say,” Nurmagomedov told RT Sport in a video interview. “In that fight, I beat that guy with pleasure, I’ll tell you.”
Nurmagomedov and McGregor have had a feud that has boiled in intensity since 2016, when McGregor pursued a lightweight title shot against Eddie Alvarez, a fight Nurmagomedov claims was his before McGregor’s pursuit to be a champ-champ kicked into full effect.
The feud intensified prior to their fight in 2018, thanks to the UFC 223 fight week bus attack in April and McGregor’s comments on Nurmagomedov’s family, culture and religion in the lead-up to the fight.
Nurmagomedov ended up submitting McGregor in the fourth round before jumping out of the Octagon to attack the Irishman’s cornermen. This is something even Nurmagomedov knows is not in his character.
“I had fights in my career where I understood that I could hurt my opponent more, but I’d talk to him, tell him to give up so that I don’t beat him too hard,” Nurmagomedov said. “For example, if I had a painful hold where I could break something, I wouldn’t tighten it all the way. I’d just fix it so that the opponent would tap out because I have no aim to hurt anyone in this sport. Yes, we compete in a very brutal contact sport, but it’s never my goal to inflict a lot of pain on my opponent.”
Quotes via MMAJunkie