Khabib Nurmagomedov appeared frustrated as he stood among journalists in Moscow for a quick media scrum several days later. Fresh off a dominant showing at the UFC’s landmark New York City event, the Dagestani native is no closer to securing a long-awaited lightweight title shot.
In the immediate aftermath of his third round finish of Michael Johnson at UFC 205, Nurmagomedov called out the UFC’s “chicken,” Conor McGregor, in a memorable post-fight promo. His attempt was futile, however, as McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to claim a historic second simultaneous UFC title before announcing an extended break to be with his growing family.
Nurmagomedov, who publicly rooted for Alvarez to win the fight because it increased his own chances of an immediate title shot, was utterly shocked by the champion’s abysmal performance in the biggest fight of his career.
“It’s a shame I had to watch this fight,” Khabib told LIFE.ru. “I do not know … Alvarez was in the most important fight of his life and looked as bad as if he hadn’t fought ever. Personally, I have this fight left a lot of questions. I repeat: I was looking at a champion in my weight, and I was ashamed of what he was doing in the Octagon.
“In general, I was very disappointed. Frankly, I wanted Alvarez to win. Because I knew that if wins McGregor, he starts running away from me. And so it happens”.
After realizing that his title shot may have slipped away from his grasp, Khabib gave the UFC an ultimatum: An immediate title shot or he will never fight for the promotion again. He later added that he did not mean the statement as a “threat” though remained as determined as ever.
“I was talking directly with Dana White, president of UFC. As a person, I have the right to express my opinion in any form. Neither White nor even ten Whites can prohibit it. If a person has no opinion or he is afraid to openly express it, it means he is not a person. I do not want to be a slave, but I do want to solve the case.”
While McGregor will likely not return before May 2017, Khabib is confident that the two-division champion is under significant pressure from his own fans to face him.
“This situation may not last long. Even Irish fans will be disappointed in their idol, ‘Hey, why do you run from this guy. Go out and prove that you’re the best lightweight of the world.’
“So it is certain that sooner or later, McGregor will have to fight me.”