Conor McGregor issued a thinly-veiled warning to Khabib Nurmagomedov, claiming “the world knows this war is not over” and hinting at a confrontation in the future if his long-standing rival does not agree to a rematch.
The pair’s grudge built to a crescendo after Nurmagomedov forced McGregor to tap out in their UFC lightweight title bout in October 2018, when a post-fight melee involving both fighters and their teams spilled outside the octagon.
McGregor has been courting a return bout since then but Nurmagomedov announced his retirement immediately after taking his perfect mixed martial arts record to 29-0 by beating Justin Gaethje last October.
The pair have been at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this week: Nurmagomedov in a coaching capacity to oversee cousin Umar’s win over Sergey Morozov on Wednesday, while McGregor takes on Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 this weekend.
“All of those events were in 2018, it’s now 2021,” McGregor told a press conference. “What I will say, as long as we fight again there will be no issue, that’s it. If he continues to run then I’m not sure, we’ll see what happens.”
Nurmagomedov bowed out of the sport after revealing he made a promise to his mother his fight against Gaethje would be his last following the death of father, coach and mentor Abdulmanap last July.
UFC president Dana White last week said the Russian could be tempted to make a comeback if he sees “something spectacular” in the McGregor-Poirier fight, a rematch of their 2014 showdown which the Irishman won.
McGregor said: “It’s a tough business, things have gone on in his personal life, I don’t wish any harm, it was 2018, a lot of time has passed.
“The world knows this war is not over, the sport needs it to happen, the people need it to happen. I’m not going to chase it if he doesn’t want it. I’ll keep my calm and move on.
“That’s what I’m doing, I’m back here at the 155lb division, I’ll show the world what’s what over time and that’s it.
“It begins on Saturday night against Dustin Poirier.”