Khabib Nurmagomedov explains why he didn’t pursue encounter with Conor McGregor at World Cup final

Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor

Both UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former champ Conor McGregor were in attendance at Sunday’s FIFA World Cup Final in Russia. Given that the pair have repeatedly been linked to a blockbuster title fight, and that there is a long history of heated confrontations between them, many fans were hoping they’d cross paths. After all, what better way to expedite fight negotiations than a little skirmish?

In the end, however, Nurmagomedov and McGregor did not meet in Russia. And according to Khabib Nurmagomedov, that was probably for the best. Though the Russian star expected to see the Irishman in the stadium, he doesn’t feel a meeting under those circumstances would be fruitful.

“I thought I’d meet McGregor at the Luzhniki Stadium,” Nurmagomedov told Championat (transcription and translation per Express.co.uk). “But even if we meet now, we still will not be able to find out who is stronger. If there was a cage in the middle of the arena, it would be more interesting. And now something to find out on the street and so on. We are not at that age and not in that position.

“It would be ideal if there were no one around. Or vice versa — to the full stadium, in the middle of the cage, and in it — [us]. In general, I see no reason to approach him now. We are hospitable people. Let the football look, enjoy Russia.”

At present, its unclear whether or not the UFC will be able to lasso Conor McGregor and pull him back into the MMA fold for a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The good news is that Nurmagomedov has several contingency plans in place.

“If not Conor, if not [Georges St-Pierre], I think winner of Eddie Alvarez versus Dustin Poirier,” Nurmagomedov said on a recent instalment of Anatomy of a Fighter, a YouTube series that profiles the game’s top fighters.

”The winner deserves a title shot,” he added. “About Tony Ferguson, I don’t know. He has surgery but if he can [fight], why not? Tony Ferguson is the biggest matchup for me. It is the match I want.”

Do you think we’ll ever see Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor fight?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/17/2018.