Before choking out Conor McGregor in the fourth round of their Lightweight title fight at UFC 229 last October, Khabib Nurmagomedov pretty much dominated the former Ultimate Fightng Championship (UFC) “champ-champ” over 17 minutes of action, even dropping him with a perfectly-landed strike one one occasion.
Five months after his loss to “The Eagle,” Conor is further explaining what went wrong that fateful night, which resulted in an ugly post-fight brawl between both camps. According to “Notorious,” he didn’t give Nurmagomedov the respect he does now for being as well-rounded as he was in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I’ve got to respect that. He’s a formidable opponent. He’s wrestled bears as a kid, put a lot of time in his standup. He was a lot sharper than I anticipated he was going to be, so I have to respect that. It was his big moment,” said Conor during a recent Q&A courtesy of Mike Pendleton.
Having been in numerous high-profile title fights, Conor says it’s one thing to win your first big championship bout, as opposed to doing it on a consistent basis. To hear him tell it, his motivation and dedication may have taken a dip, as he had already reached levels in the MMA game many have never dreamed of.
“It’s easy to do this once, okay. It’s easy for someone to be given something and to just do it one time. You put your absolute all into it. But to do it time after time, year after year, that’s when the motivation kind of dips,” he added.
“That’s when the the dedication kind of lacks and that’s when people creep up. That’s what I feel kind of happened here. I didn’t give him his respect, I marched forward and got caught with that overhand right. If I had switched on I would not get caught with that overhand in any form of combat. I am very confident, very eager and very in shape,” said Conor.
Despite the one-sided loss he suffered, Conor feels a rematch is inevitable.
“If there is dispute, there must be a rematch. There was a dispute in my last one. I slapped his brother and his cousin around at the top of the cage. This is not over. So there is dispute and there has got to be rematch,” he concluded.
Of course, should they ever run it back it won’t be anytime soon, as Khabib won’t return to action until at least November, while Conor is hoping to return in July. Plus, the 155-pound division is stacked with top contenders who are more than deserving of a shot at the title, so Conor may have to dazzle in his next fight if he wants to jump the line.
That said, can Conor make the proper adjustments to make the potential rematch against “The Eagle” a bit more competitive?