Conor McGregor on Khabib's Retirement: 'Not Surprised to See Him Scurry Away'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2021

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, Conor McGregor, left, fights Khabib Nurmagomedov are separated during a UFC 229 mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov was fined $500,000 and suspended for nine months for a brawl inside and outside the octagon after his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 229. McGregor was fined $50,000 and suspended for six months.  The suspensions for both fighters are retroactive to Oct. 6. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
John Locher/Associated Press

Conor McGregor addressed Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement again this week ahead of his upcoming fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.

In an interview with Oscar Willis (h/t ESPN's Brett Okamoto), McGregor said: "How you could walk away at this stage is baffling to me, but to each their own. ... I was not surprised to see him scurry away."

Nurmagomedov, 32, announced his retirement in October after beating Justin Gaethje by second-round technical submission at UFC 254 to retain the UFC Lightweight Championship and improve his career record to 29-0.

Upon announcing his retirement, Khabib said that the death of his father and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, in July played a role in his decision. He also said he promised his mother the Gaethje fight would be his last one.

A few months before that fight, UFC President Dana White told a Reddit AMA that McGregor wanted a rematch against Khabib, but he seemingly gave up his pursuit once Nurmagomedov decided to step away.

After Khabib retired, McGregor tweeted the following:

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McGregor faced Nurmagomedov for the first time at UFC 229 in October 2018. The Eagle won by fourth-round submission, but it was among the most competitive fights he was ever involved in.

After the loss, McGregor stepped away from the UFC, returned to beat Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 246 last year and then retired again. It was widely expected that McGregor would return eventually, and he agreed to face Poirier at UFC 257 on Jan. 24 in Abu Dhabi.

If McGregor beats Poirier, it won't be surprising to see him call Khabib out again given the moneymaking potential of that fight.

White has made it clear he isn't ready to concede that Khabib is retired for good. He recently told MMA Junkie he plans to make a pitch to Nurmagomedov about returning in the near future.

Nurmagomedov hasn't publicly expressed interest in returning, but there is no question that much of the MMA fanbase would love to see a rematch between the two former champions.

If Khabib doesn't return, however, the winner of McGregor vs. Poirier will be among the favorites to become the new UFC lightweight champion along with Gaethje, Charles Oliveira and Tony Ferguson.