UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov has explained the reasons behind his shocking call out of Conor McGregor following his impressive victory over Michael Johnson back in 2016.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor appeared on the same card for the first time at UFC 205.
The Eagle appeared on the star-studded undercard against Johnson, alongside the likes of Frankie Edgar and Vicente Luque.
In contrast, McGregor faced lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in the main event bout and was the face of the UFC’s first-ever event at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
After defeating his opponent with relative ease, a fired-up Nurmagomedov was interviewed by Joe Rogan and stunned fans with a savage call-out of McGregor.
“I wanna stay humble but I have to talk,” Nurmagomedov told Rogan.
“I understand how crazy powerful the UFC PR machine is. Your guy (McGregor); beginning of the year he tap like chicken, end of the year he fight for the title. Crazy.”
Despite receiving boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd, largely made up of Irish fans, Nurmagomedov continued.
“I wanna fight your chicken because this is Number 1 easiest fight in UFC lightweight division.”
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While Nurmagomedov’s callout seemingly came from nowhere, it sparked perhaps the most famous rivalry in MMA history with the pair’s bout at UFC 229 smashing the UFC record for pay-per-view buys.
In a recent appearance on Mike Tyson’s ‘Hotboxin’ podcast, the Eagle explained that he didn’t simply call McGregor out for his own financial gain.
Instead, he stated that he had been originally booked to face Alvarez for the title, before McGregor snatched the opportunity from him.
“That night, I was very emotional because this fight have big history,” Nurmagomedov explained.
“They send me contract fight versus Alvarez, fight for the title. First of all, they send me fight in Canada. I sign contract. Then, they send me fight with him in, I think, Madison Square Garden.
“I sign contract. And I was like, ‘What’s going on? I don’t understand why this guy send me, like, two different contract.’
McGregor would easily defeat Alvarez in the main event bout of UFC 205 to become the promotion’s first ever fighter to hold two titles simultaneously.
He would later vacate the belt due to inactivity and Nurmagomedov would finally capture the lightweight title two years after UFC 205, defeating Al Iaquinta via decision at UFC 223.
The Russian would fight just three more times in the UFC before retiring following the tragic death of his father.
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