Ahead of his UFC 229 fight with undefeated UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor unleashed plenty of his famous trash talk. Unfortunately, some fans felt that McGregor crossed some lines with his trash talk of Nurmagomedov, as he targeted the champ’s family, ethnicity, religion and more.
UFC President Dana White, however, doesn’t see it that way. Speaking to ESPN recently, White essentially said that all’s fair in the fight business, and that Conor McGregor mentioning Khabib Nurmagomedov’s religion and family is no different than Muhammad Ali targeting George Foreman ahead of The Thrilla in Manila.
“Well my philosophy on this stuff is that this a fight,” said White (transcript via MMA Fighting). “Since the beginning of time people have said mean things to each other in a fight, no matter what. Muhammad Ali called Joe Frazier an Uncle Tom, back when that was one of the worst things you could say to a guy. He called him a gorilla; ‘it’s gonna be a thriller and a chiller when I get the gorilla in Manilla,’ and things like that. And for the rest of his life, [Frazier] hated Muhammad Ali, hated him for the things that he said about him. This is not the nice business, this is the fight business. This wasn’t the first time that mean things were said to another person and it won’t be the last.”
McGregor’s pre-fight trash talk of Khabib Nurmagomedov wound up building such friction between them that their teams engaged in a nasty brawl after their fight ended.
While there still seems to be some lingering tension between the two stars, Khabib Nurmagomedov recently divulged that he could potentially bury the hatchet with Conor McGregor in the future.
“Everything is possible. Just as McGregor and I feuded, so we could reconcile,” Nurmagomedov said through his translator at a recent press conference in Moscow.
Do you think Conor McGregor took his pre-fight trash talk of Khabib Nurmagomedov too far?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/27/2018.