Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Khabib Nurmagomedov rules out rematch with Conor McGregor: 'The last three years he only have one victory in amateur boxing'

UFC lightweight champion says his only focus is on facing Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi in September

Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, defeated Conor McGregor by submission in their October 2018 UFC bout in Las Vegas. Reuters
Khabib Nurmagomedov, right, defeated Conor McGregor by submission in their October 2018 UFC bout in Las Vegas. Reuters

Khabib Nurmagomedov says Conor McGregor does not deserve a rematch, claiming the Irishman “begged me not to kill him” during their controversial fight last October.

The undefeated Russian, 30, will make his long-awaited comeback at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi in September, when he defends his lightweight belt against interim champion Dustin Poirier.

The headline bout marks the first time Nurmagomedov has fought since the now-infamous clash with McGregor in Las Vegas late last year, where he clinched a submission victory in the fourth round to move his mixed martial arts record to 27 wins from 27 fights (11-0 UFC). However, a post-bout brawl resulted in Nurmagomedov being given a nine-month ban and $500,000 (Dh1.83m) fine.

Now free to headline the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi following a five-year hiatus - in April the organisation signed a five-year deal with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi - Nurmagomedov insists he has sights set only on Poirier at the moment. He does, though, see a fight against lightweight contender Tony Ferguson, and possibly a match against retired all-star George St-Pierre, in his future plans.

Those, though, do not include another go at McGregor.

“The last three years he only have one victory in amateur boxing, how [does] he deserve rematch?” Nurmagomedov said at a UFC 242 press conference in London on Wednesday: “He tapped. He begged me ‘please, don’t kill me’ and he talks about rematch. Tony Ferguson is on the line. People who have win streak are on the line, but not the guy who don’t win anything the last three years.

“I have a lot of work without him. Right now, I’m focused on September 7.”

Nurmagomedov will take on Poirier in the lightweight unification bout at The Arena on Yas Island. Also aged 30, the American comes into the fight on the back of his April victory against Max Holloway, a result that took his record to 25 wins and five losses from 31 bouts.

“I don’t want to underestimate Dustin,” Nurmagomedov said. “He’s a tough challenge for me. Right now I don’t want to think about other opponents. I have to focus on my opponent.

“I’m preparing for this fight like I’m going to have the hardest fight in my life. I can’t wait. September 7 is going to be a big, big night for me, for my legacy. And for Dustin, too.”

Asked how he was going to inflict the first defeat of Nurmagomedov’s career, Poirier said: “Experience, self-belief, my mind-set. I’m focused on making history. I don’t need to find huge holes [in his game]. The guy’s good, he’s the world champ.

"But I’m going to make things happen and bring him to places he’s never been to. I’ve learned I can count on myself. Adversity introduces a man to himself. I’m well acquainted and I’m ready to rock.”

Updated: June 13, 2019 05:37 PM

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