NEW YORK – On Friday, the UFC hosted a Q&A with the Dagestani lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov in Brighton Beach, near Coney Island in Brooklyn. The Russian faithful showed up in good number, some of them sporting papakha hats, and all of them chanting his name.
Among the hot topics the fans and media asked Nurmagomedov during his nearly 40-minute Q&A was centered on current lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Nurmagomedov was stoical in his answers — one might even say subdued.
But he also got a rise out of the crowd each time he hit on a potential fight between the two.
“I think if Conor has one fan, I have 20 times more fans than him,” he said at the National Restaurant and Night Club. “I think UFC has to make plans a little bit, because this chicken is not loyal. If you remember, the first time he fought in the UFC, and he talked like, ‘$50K baby,’ something like this. He asked Dana please give me $50K. The UFC made him. If he had never fought in the UFC, how would he have got like this?
“Now he’s talking about I can fight without the UFC in boxing, you know. For me, this is disrespectful of the UFC.”
Nurmagomedov (24-0) is coming off a victory over Michael Johnson at UFC 205 in November. He is now slated to fight Tony Ferguson for the interim 155-pound title at UFC 209 on March 4.
On that front Nurmagomedov said they might as well just remove the word “interim,” because he said he believed McGregor had no intention of defending the actual title.
He also said that he doesn’t think McGregor necessarily wants to fight him.
“When I see his eyes backstage in the weigh-in, he’s different,” he said. “He wants to talk with everybody, when he see me, he doesn’t want to talk to me. He and his coach.”
Nurmagomedov pointed out on several occasions that the UFC helped build McGregor by giving him the platform they did. He also said that the UFC only need to call him if they ever want to tear him down.
Or, if the UFC wants to “humble” the Irishman.
“I wanted to say to the UFC, I can help these guys,” he said. “We can make the other guy humble, because we remember how he asked for $50,000. Now he talking about he can make this [Mayweather] fight without the UFC. I don’t worry about my PR, because in Dagestan and Russia, I’m a bit worried about how I become popular because before I never feel this pressure. And that’s why I don’t think about this.