From the sounds of it, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s first title defense will pit him against former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor. The pair could well meet before the year is out — perhaps even as soon as UFC 229 in October.
If the fight does come together, Nurmagomedov plans to punish McGregor for his ego in the cage.
“I can’t believe we’re going to fight, because I really want this guy,” Nurmagomedov told reporters at Saturday night’s UFC on Fox 30 card (via MMAjunkie). “Make him humble, a little bit teach him, and not only smash but change his face. I want to change his face. Of course, with face I can change his mind, too.”
“I want a big drama show,” Nurmagomedov added. “A little bit [of talking] with him, tell him, ‘I know how we have to do this.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov also shed a bit of light on his game plan for a potential showdown with the incredibly talented striker Conor McGregor. Unsurprisingly, Nurmagomedov will be looking for the takedown. If the takedown doesn’t work, he’ll try again and again, ideally tiring his foe out in the process.
“I have a little bit of a plan,” Nurmagomedov said. “Make him tired, make him look bad. Strong, he’s very dangerous. Everybody knows this. I know this, too. If you think I’m going to stay with him like I stayed with [Al] Iaquinta with my Muhammad Ali jab? No way, brother. No way. I’m going to try to take him down. Even if he defend my takedown, he’s going to be tired.”
Whatever the case, Khabib Nurmagomedov is happy Conor McGregor’s legal situation shook out favorably, as the Irishman getting jail time would have deprived them of the opportunity to fight.
“To be honest, inside my heart I am a little bit happy about this,” Nurmagomedov said. “Because if he goes to jail, what happens? How I can catch him? How? Only inside the cage.”
Who do you think will come out on top if Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor fight?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/29/2018.