Nurmagomedov, who currently holds the UFC lightweight title despite retiring after UFC 254, appeared to take a shot at his longtime rival McGregor, who was stopped with a flurry of punches after a strong start.
This is what happened, when you change your team, leave the sparring partners who made you a champion and sparring with little kids, far away from reality.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 24, 2021
Prior to UFC 257, McGregor talked up a physical transformation at 155 pounds with a new conditioning and training system as he prepared for Saturday’s fight in Portugal. But the ex-champ was led by his longtime coaches, including head MMA coach John Kavanagh and striking coach Owen Roddy, in training camp and during the fight.
Despite Nurmagomedov’s retirement, UFC President Dana White repeatedly teased the idea of a rematch with McGregor. After a meeting with the champ earlier this month, the UFC executive said an impressive performance from UFC 257’s headliners, including Michael Chandler and Dan Hooker, could bring “The Eagle” back to the octagon.
After McGregor’s emphatic loss, White sounded less sure.
“He said to me, ‘Dana, be honest with yourself,’” White said. “‘I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys. But it doesn’t sound very positive, so we’ll see. But what I said before – he won’t hold the division up.”
Nurmagomedov submitted Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 to unify the lightweight title and extend his unbeaten streak to 29-0. He said afterward that his decision to retire was motivated by a promise he made to his mother not to compete after the pay-per-view event, which followed the death of his father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, due to complications from COVID-19.
At UFC 229, Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the most lucrative UFC pay-per-view to date after one of the most heated buildups in promotional history. The bad blood spilled out of the octagon afterward when the fighters and their teams brawled inside the octagon, resulting in suspensions and fines for all involved.
After his win over McGregor, Poirier said the UFC 257 should have been a title fight, and he welcomed the idea of a rematch with the Irish star, who stopped him via TKO in their first meeting in 2014, in a fight for the belt.