UFC HOFer Khabib Nurmagomedov Recalls His ‘Hard Time’ While Going Against Conor McGregor in the Biggest Fight in UFC History

Published 10/30/2023, 2:25 AM EDT

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Fans have witnessed a lot of great fights under the UFC banner. However, none of them came close to the one between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor. Moreover, ‘The Eagle’ recently revealed in an interview that he was in a tough spot during his rivalry with the former double champion.

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Conor McGregor is arguably the biggest draw in the history of the UFC. On the other side, Khabib Nurmagomedov quickly became one of the most popular fighters due to his dominant performances. It was a match made in heaven when these two fought at UFC 229. However, Nurmagomedov was dealing with some difficulties at that time. Let’s see what he had to say.

Why did Khabib Nurmagomedov struggle before the Conor McGregor fight?

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The fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov did over 2.4 million PPV buys. The promotion made around $180 million from that event as per sources. However, ‘The Eagle’ wasn’t having the best of time as he inched closer to the fight. During a recent interview, he said, “I remember like when it was the biggest fight in UFC history, it was very hard time for myself.”

The reason behind the tough time he was having was because he did not have his father with him. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov had been training his son since he was a child. However, he was not there in the United States when Khabib was preparing for his fight against Conor McGregor. “I was without [my] father in the US, fighting [and] doing everything. My father was home, I was in US,” said Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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Further, the lead-up to the fight was not at all pretty. From the dolly-throwing incident at the Barclays Center to McGregor’s constant taunts, Nurmagomedov had plenty of things bothering him. On top of it all, this was ‘The Eagle’s first title defense after winning UFC gold earlier that year.

The mounting pressure of the fight was getting to the champion. However, his father kept him focused on the fight with a special message.

How did Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov keep ‘The Eagle’ focused on UFC 229?

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Even though Khabib Nurmagomedov did not have his father with him as he prepared for the fight, he kept in touch with him. His father even gave him an important lesson about handling pressure. Nurmagomedov said, “I remember when he called me and he told me, ‘You have to listen. You know how people make diamonds with under high pressure. When you’re gonna feel high pressure, you can become diamond or this pressure is going to break you.'”

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These are the kinds of things that Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, would tell him so that he did not deviate from his sole aim. His father was so essential to his career in MMA that he announced his retirement after the sad demise of his father and started training his protégé, Islam Makhachev. But soon, he gave up all aspects of MMA to make time for his family.

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It is a matter of speculation regarding what more Khabib Nurmagomedov could have achieved if he continued to fight. Nevertheless, he has kept himself busy in inspiring and training the next generation of Dagestani fighters. With many fighters from the mountainous region making their mark in the UFC, it remains to be seen if anyone can surpass or replicate the career ‘The Eagle’ has had.

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Written by:

Himanga Mahanta

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Himanga Mahanta is a senior UFC writer at EssentiallySports. He has a passion for combat sports and a deep understanding of the intricacies of MMA. With over 1,000 articles to his name, Himanga provides in-depth coverage of UFC events and fighters, bringing his readers closer to the action and the athletes they admire.
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Edited by:

Yeswanth Praveen

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