Now that Conor McGregor has left court in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a plea bargain that spares him from jail time, Khabib Nurmagomedov is itching for the deal-making to begin for their anticipated UFC showdown.
“Everyone’s talking about Conor not [yet] having a deal,” for a fall fight. “Khabib doesn’t have a deal, either,” Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told The Times on Thursday. “Khabib’s the champ, and we’re easy to deal with it, but nobody has officially offered us a fight.”
Ireland’s McGregor, a former two-division UFC champion who earned a reported $100 million for suffering a 10th-round technical-knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year, fastened the building rivalry with Russia’s Nurmagomedov in April.
With Nurmagomedov (26-0) in Brooklyn for the pre-fight news conference before he officially claimed the lightweight belt stripped from McGregor for taking an extended layoff from UFC action, McGregor led a band of associates to a tour bus carrying Nurmagomedov and several other UFC fighters.
With cameras documenting the attack, McGregor flung a hand truck at a bus window and the flying glass caused injuries that forced flyweight Ray Borg and Michael Chiesa off the card.
Both now have the opportunity to sue McGregor for damages in civil court following the New York prosecutors’ decision to reduce two felony criminal mischief charges against McGregor to disorderly conduct violations that require community service while allowing McGregor to escape a lifetime criminal record with no restrictions on his ability to travel to the U.S.
McGregor’s Orange County-based agent, Audie Attar, said Thursday he expects to have information soon on McGregor.
Abdelaziz said he’s been told by the UFC, “Have Khabib ready for Oct. 6,” the UFC 229 card at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
“Everybody’s assuming Khabib already has [an agreement] done. He doesn’t. We’re willing to fight. We want the fight. It’s a big fight.”
With McGregor’s case now adjudicated, Abdelaziz said the hand-truck attack heightened the rivalry with Nurmagomedov to “a blood thing.”
“It’s not only a cage fight now. It’s a street fight. It’s about who’s going to defend his turf,” Abdelaziz said. “Khabib is saying, ‘You come at me, insult me and try to trap my team with 30-40 people and there was three of us. So now it’s personal.’
“Before, it was about promoting a fight, about making money. It’s not about this at all anymore. It’s about kicking somebody’s [rear] for disrespecting you.”
Abdelaziz said Nurmagomedov originally laughed when McGregor attacked.
“This is fake,” Nurmagomedov told Abdelaziz. “If somebody wanted to come after me, why didn’t he come at me before I got on the bus, or wait for me to get off the bus? He waits for me while I’m on the bus, with a whole bunch of cameras and security.”
Nurmagomedov told Abdelaziz he would’ve settled his differences with McGregor, alone under the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Khabib meant it,” Abdelaziz said. “Everything Conor does he does for a stunt, for media, for all that.”
Part of the hype toward McGregor-Nurmagomedov will be the Russian’s push to proclaim the act is over.
“Today, I told people Conor would’ve been safer in jail,” Abdelaziz said. “I’m not joking.
“[McGregor] didn’t have gangsters,” with him during the bus attack. “He had posers. They had a camera guy. Who comes to commit a crime with a camera guy? When you want to beat somebody’s [rear], do it on the downlow. No evidence. No witnesses.