Khabib: The UFC Is Protecting McGregor From Me
Post-UFC 205, no fighter has been more vocal than Khabib Nurmagomedov. The #1 lightweight contender dominated Michael Johnson on the card’s prelims and sent a stern warning to now-champion Conor McGregor. According to Khabib, however, the UFC is trying to keep McGregor as far from him as they can.
Speaking with RT Sport, Nurmagomedov believes that the UFC does not want to give him a promotional push because they want to deny him the title shot he has earned in the cage.
"I felt good because [whether] the UFC puts me on the main card or prelims, it doesn’t matter," Nurmagomedov said. "You have to fight. Main card cage closes the same in prelims, same cage closes… But I think UFC put me in prelims because they don’t want to make my name as big because they have to take care of Conor. They don’t want to promote my name very good."
While Nurmagomedov spent the last few years sidelined by injuries, he returned in 2016 with two dominant wins over Darrel Horcher (a late replacement for Tony Ferguson) and Johnson at UFC 205. His only competition for the top spot in the rankings of lightweight contenders is Ferguson, who has been far more active on the way to a nine-fight winning streak. Ferguson last outpointed former champion Rafael Dos Anjos in Mexico City a week prior to UFC 205.
Nurmagomedov (24-0) has the advantage of holding an undefeated record, and he just handled the last fighter to defeat Ferguson. If Khabib doesn’t receive a title shot, he says he will resort to a vague and slightly menacing "Plan B".
"I have a big plan, a big plan [if the UFC doesn’t grant him a title shot]. But after a couple of days you guys will know."
If Nurmagomedov is next for Conor McGregor, he may have to wait: the new UFC lightweight champion has said that he is taking time off from the sport while he expects his first child in May.