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Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov: How the genie got out of the bottle


At the post-fight press conference, Nurmagomedov clarified that he was incensed by the personal comments McGregor made in the build-up to the lightweight title clash. (AP Photo)

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Known to engage in psychological warfare, Conor McGregor bit off more than he could chew against Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Irishman made uncomfortable references to figures attached to the Russian fighter, which resulted in Nurmagomedov engaging in a brawl after defending his lightweight title at Saturday’s UFC 229.

What got under Khabib Nurmagomedov’s skin?

At the post-fight press conference, Nurmagomedov clarified that he was incensed by the personal comments McGregor made in the build-up to the lightweight title clash. “He talked about my religion, my country, my father,” Nurmagomedov said.

McGregor had mockingly offered Nurmagomedov, a Muslim from Dagestan, shots of whiskey, before calling his father and coach Abdulmanap a “quivering coward” for posting a photograph with Chechen strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov. “(Khabib’s father) and (Chechen leader Ramzan) Kadyrov were at a mosque together and he posted a picture of Kadyrov on his Instagram site. Kadyrov is the Chechen dictator, a crazy man, don’t get me wrong,” said McGregor, before adding that he was fighting for the Russians as well.

Who are Ziyavudin Magomedov and Ali Abdelaziz?

Magomedov, whose wealth is estimated at $1.2 billion, is an combat sports enthusiast who has invested significant sums into Russian MMA. Nurmagomedov, who fights for his club, considers Magomedov as his ‘big brother’, a comment that raised quite a few eyebrows. In March this year, Magomedov was arrested and charged with embezzling over 2 billion rubles, roughly $35 million, fraud, and the “organization of a criminal community.” He is also under investigation for several months to determine whether he embezzled money during the construction of a World Cup stadium in Kaliningrad. If found guilty, Magomedov could face up to 20 years in prison.

Abdelaziz is one of the most successful managers in MMA, as well as a ‘toxic influence’ on the sport. His career has also been laced with various conflicts of interest, political associations with dictators. McGregor called him a “terrorist snitch” who had been “pulled off a flight” from Cairo to New York on Sept. 11, 2001, and was “caught with five passports in his possession.”

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What’s the deal about Vladimir Putin?

McGregor used a photo with the Russian President Vladimir Putin taken during the World Cup final and asked Nurmagomedov if he was jealous. The Russian replied in the negative, and on Sunday, made it a point to inform the press that “Putin just called me and told me he is proud of me. And he said congratulations.”

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