Last week, Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov finally met face-to-face. They will main event UFC 229 on pay-per-view (PPV) with the lightweight title on the line. During the presser, McGregor took his brash antics to a completely new level.
The Irishman disrespected Khabib’s father, discussed Russian politics, and challenged the lightweight champion’s character. Khabib seemed unphased by McGregor’s comments for the most part. However, once McGregor began speaking ill of his father, “The Eagle” seemed to get a little rattled.
One of Khabib’s coaches at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Javier Mendez, offered his thoughts on the ordeal. Mendez told MMA Fighting that he doesn’t think his fighter was affected by “The Notorious'” mind games:
“Well, you know, we talked to Khabib right before the fight was made,” Mendez said. “I said, “Look, he’s gonna play with you. He’s gonna hit every button, he’s gonna hit religion, he’s gonna hit politics, he’s gonna hit family – you can’t let it affect you.” Because that’s his game.
“That’s what he does. He’s a master at that – I wish he wouldn’t do it – but that’s who he is. We’ve talked about it for months out now, that this was going to happen. So when it did happen, it was kind of like, he was prepared for that. I said “If you’re not going to fight back with him, then stay relaxed, stay calm, and just smile at him. If you’re gonna do anything, do that. Don’t fight with him.”
“That’s not Khabib’s style, so let’s not go there. So that’s why there was no confrontation – like people expected Khabib to come back at him – No. No. Okay, he’s gonna not let me talk? I’ll just be quiet.”
It’s hard to say that Khabib wasn’t moved at all by McGregor’s actions. Even Mendez admits that “The Eagle” was “slightly agitated” by the Irishman’s comments. But nothing that will affect his performance on fight night:
“No, Khabib wasn’t rattled at all. I mean, slightly agitated? Yes. Because I don’t understand how anybody in their right mind cannot be agitated by a master craftsman like that guy. He comes at you with everything! And he hits you with everything. So if you’re not slightly agitated by that, then you’re not human.
“So, yeah, he had to be slightly agitated, but it didn’t work. It didn’t work, it did not work. Who won the stare down? Who won the talk game? Conor did the talking, so he won that. But the overall everything, Khabib won.”
Do you think Khabib was shaken by McGregor’s performance at the UFC 229 presser?