‘UFC would be smart to keep Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor apart’ on Fight Island, warns Javier Mendez… and champion’s coach hits out at ‘Notorious’ for targeting ‘country, religion and family’ before their brawl back in 2018
- Khabib Nurmagomedov has not crossed paths with Conor McGregor since 2018
- UFC 229 showdown between them and subsequent chaos will go down in infamy
- Khabib is cornering his cousin Umar on UFC 257 card headlined by McGregor
- Russian’s coach hopes UFC keep McGregor and Khabib away from each other
The pound-for-pound No 1 is cornering his cousin Umar on the card headlined by McGregor’s rematch with Dustin Poirier, meaning they will be in relatively close proximity for the first time since their infamous UFC 229 fight in 2018.
They have not been in the same room since Khabib submitted McGregor and then sparked a brawl between both their entourages by leaping the cage and attempting to fight Dillon Danis.
Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov have not been in the same room since UFC 229
Dana White and the UFC are likely to try to keep both of the old rivals apart this week
And given the toxic build-up and spiteful previous relationship between the pair, the UFC are likely to be doing all they can to keep both men away from each other in the coming days on Fight Island.
Mendez, who will also be cornering Umar, believes that is absolutely the right plan of action.
He told RT Sport MMA: ‘I would think that they would try to avoid Khabib and Conor meeting. That would be smart, I would agree. I think 100 per cent it makes sense to avoid them meeting.’
Javier Mendez spoke of his dislike of McGregor as a person after the build-up to UFC 229
And the American Kickboxing Academy coach went on to add that McGregor’s antics in the lead-up to the first fight, when he used incendiary language such as ‘Dagestani rat’, have coloured his opinion of the former two-weight champion outside the cage.
He went on: ‘People always ask me what I think about Conor as a fighter, not as a person. As a fighter he’s fantastic, one of the best I’ve ever seen but as a person I don’t like him. I don’t like what he does, I don’t like him speaking about country, religion, family.
‘Just the art of war type tactics. I don’t think it should ever come into play in the fight game. Talk trash to him but leave all that other stuff alone, he did his research, he attacked all those things, talking religion, talking country, that’s the reason I don’t particularly care for him.’
Khabib remains retired for the time being after his emotional win over Justin Gaethje. And the lightweight champion promised his mother he would not fight again following the death of his father Abdulmanap last year.
The Dagestani fighter jumped from the octagon at UFC 229, sparking a mass brawl
McGregor suffered defeat by Khabib in their 2018 title fight for the lightweight belt
He recently met with Dana White in Abu Dhabi and the UFC president revealed he was thinking about a comeback but needed to be impressed by a performance at UFC 257 with lightweight Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler also on the card.
Mendez reiterated the point about Khabib’s promise to his mother being the most important obstacle to his return.
He added: ‘I agree that it has to be a special fight in order for Khabib to come back. But we have to remember one thing, that he has to get his mother’s permission. If she doesn’t approve, he has to follow his mother. Knowing the great person that he is, if he does decide to come back after seeing someone he feels in worthy, he’s going to have to ask his mother too.’
A rematch between McGregor and Khabib would be hugely lucrative for all involved and perhaps if the old rivals butt heads in Abu Dhabi, it could set the wheels of that contest in motion.