Conor McGregor ‘jealous’ of Khabib Nurmagomedov, says former UFC star Ben Askren

McGregor was submitted by the Russian in 2018, in the biggest UFC fight of all time

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Thursday 23 May 2024 17:04 BST
Conor McGregor announces UFC return

Conor McGregor is “jealous” of the respect commanded by Khabib Nurmagomedov, according to Ben Askren.

McGregor suffered a submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, in the biggest fight in UFC history. The result saw Khabib retain the lightweight title previously held by McGregor, and kept the Russian on track to retire unbeaten in 2020.

In the years since, Nurmagomedov has coached childhood friend Islam Makhachev to the lightweight title, while McGregor has gone 1-2. Most recently, the Irishman suffered a broken leg against Dustin Poirier in July 2021.

That injury came six months after McGregor was knocked out by Poirier, and on 29 June, the former champion will seek his first win since 2020 when he fights Michael Chandler.

Ahead of that bout, McGregor appeared on a Duelbits live stream this week, hitting out at numerous fighters – including Khabib.

Former UFC welterweight Ben Askren reacted to McGregor’s words by telling UFC legend Daniel Cormier: “He’s going to be 80 years old and tagging Khabib. He’s jealous, of course!

“Absolutely, no doubt in my mind at all. He’s got all the money in the world, [but] deep down in his heart, what he wanted to be was the most respected fighting champion on planet Earth. No money can make up for that, that’s what Khabib is.

“Khabib is a fighting champion that everyone has a deep amount of respect for the way he lives his life, and Conor wishes he had that much respect for himself but [...] he can’t control himself.”

Khabib retired as UFC lightweight champion in 2020, moments after submitting Justin Gaethje. Since guiding Makhachev to the belt in 2022, Khabib has seemingly retired from coaching as well.

McGregor tapped out in the fourth round of his fight with Khabib
McGregor tapped out in the fourth round of his fight with Khabib (USA TODAY Sports)

Makhachev, who also emulated Khabib in becoming the UFC’s pound-for-pound No 1 fighter, is due to defend his title against Poirier on 1 June, five years after Nurmagomedov submitted the American.

McGregor held the belt from November 2016 until April 2018, and that run overlapped with his featherweight title reign, which lasted from December 2015 until November 2016. McGregor did not defend either belt, though his title wins made him the first dual-weight champion in UFC history.

Three fighters have since replicated that feat, including Cormier, who wrestled on the same US Olympics team as Askren in 2008.

Askren was unbeaten in MMA until 2019, when he went 1-2 in the UFC. One of those losses was a record-setting defeat by Jorge Masvidal, who knocked out Askren in five seconds with a flying knee. Prior to joining the UFC, Askren held world MMA titles in Bellator and One.

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