Conor McGregor, who has previously retired on multiple occasions, said Khabib Nurmagomedov walked away from the sport because he was scared of a rematch with the Irish UFC star.
"I think he's afraid to fight me," McGregor told ESPN's Ariel Helwani. "That's for damn sure. And I don't blame him. ... I fought the best of him on that night, he fought the worst of me that night. He knows it, I know it, his team knows it."
McGregor lost to Nurmagomedov via submission at UFC 229 in a battle for the lightweight championship that lasted four rounds and has been angling for a rematch ever since. Nurmagomedov walked away from the sport in October following the death of his father and longtime trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, in July.
"If he's retired and that's it, I wish him well," McGregor said. "It is what it is, but I am who I am and I am at the top, so time will show."
After Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje in a lightweight unification bout at UFC 254 in October, the champ announced he would no longer be able to fight without his father by his side. It was an emotional retirement speech inside the Octagon from Nurmagomedov, and it immediately sent shockwaves across the UFC.
One of those waves hit McGregor, who has long been angling for a rematch with Nurmagomedov despite no longer holding the status as a top contender. McGregor last fought in January and knocked out Donald Cerrone with ease just 40 seconds into the first round.
Yet McGregor is still just the No. 4 lightweight contender behind Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira. Even if Nurmagomedov does end his retirement, there's no guarantee McGregor would be the next in line to fight him.
That hasn't stopped McGregor from trying to goad the Dagestani star back into the sport. If anyone knows how to walk back a retirement, it's certainly McGregor.