UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has said he only wants to fight "real guys" and is prepared to delay any rematch with Conor McGregor, though he admitted their rivalry will never end.
Nurmagomedov will seek to defend his lightweight belt against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 on September 7. He sat down with ESPN's Brett Okamoto and outlined the calibre of opponent he's chasing (at 20 minutes, 58 seconds) before a McGregor rematch:
The 30-year-old said his former opponent would need to amass a "nine or 10-fight win streak" before he gets a chance at his old belt:
"I don't think this fight can happen. This guy [McGregor] have to come back and make nine or 10-fight win streak. Then we gonna fight, but right now it's like 'Conor'? Maybe people who watch this interview, they think, 'Oh, he think about this, but when UFC ask this guy to fight Conor for millions of dollars, this guy is gonna take it.' No. Come back and show who are you.
"Dana [White], no need to call me. Why he have to call me about this fight? We talk with Dana sometimes, he's a good guy, but don't talk with me about this crazy fight. I want to fight with real guys—Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, maybe if one of the greatest athletes ever, Georges St-Pierre. I want to fight those guys. I don't want to fight with a guy who never wins. Come back and deserve this."
Both fighters were suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for their parts in a post-fight brawl that saw Nurmagomedov leap the cage to attack one of McGregor's team-mates, Dillon Danis.
The Notorious was recently captured on CCTV punching a patron in a Dublin pub who refused to take a shot of his own-brand whiskey. McGregor apologised for the incident in an interview with ESPN's Ariel Helwani, saying he owed it to his family and supporters to lead by a better example:
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
Alert: My entire interview with @TheNotoriousMMA airs TONIGHT on ESPN2 at 8 pm et / 5 pm pt. We discuss the recent bar incident, his string of controversies, his injured hand, his return, Diaz, Khabib and so much more. One hour, unedited with Conor McGregor. Tonight! https://t.co/4QyYIBGlvN
Despite the melee after their UFC 229 bout, where several of Nurmagomedov's team-mates also assaulted McGregor, the Dagestani champion showed little remorse in the context of their feud:
"Even [the October fight] did not finish it. Just smash people is not enough. I talk about just smash only him? It's not enough. We have to smash all his team. This is what I think before the fight. This is what I say to my team. 'Hey, tonight, we're going to war. This is not about fight.'
"It will never be finished. Ever. Even if we see [each other] somewhere, we're going to fight, 100 percent. It doesn't matter if someone go to jail or something like this. I'm not scared about this. If someone has to go jail, they go jail. He said it's never going to be finished, but who runs this show? We smashed him, we smashed his team. They go to hospital and we go to police. That's it."
A second date between the two lightweights would likely rival some of the UFC's biggest pay-per-view figures, but it's not surprising Nurmagomedov is seeking higher levels of competition.
It's also not surprising that McGregor, on the other hand, told Helwani he would "dive in" to a potential rematch with the titleholder, via BT Sport:
Nurmagomedov may not be serious about his win-streak criteria for McGregor to earn a rematch considering it's taken the Irishman six years to have 11 UFC fights (9-2).
The Notorious appears more serious about his return following his most recent public transgression, but he apparently faces a long wait before Nurmagomedov is ready for a reunion in the Octagon.