MMA: Conor McGregor says 'war is not over' with Khabib Nurmagomedov, calls for rematch

Conor McGregor (left) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov during UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena on Oct 6, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

(WASHINGTON POST) - Conor McGregor has gone from strongly hinting that his retirement won't last to calling for a "rematch" with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In an interview with motivational speaker Tony Robbins, the brash Irishman also crowed about landing "the final blow of the night" during the melee that followed his loss to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October.

"Although the match didn't go my way, the fight went my way. And trust me when I tell you, Tony, this war is not over," McGregor said on a podcast hosted by Robbins and recorded in early April but not posted until last week.

"If this fight does not happen again, if it does not get reset, it's on them," McGregor added. "They're running away. I'm here for the fight and here for the rematch."

Nurmagomedov (27-0) retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight crown in the much-hyped fight against McGregor (21-4), who had held the title earlier before being stripped of it for inactivity. Immediately following Nurmagomedov's win by submission in the fourth round, he leaped out of the cage to confront a McGregor teammate working in his corner, while members of the Russian's camp breached the Octagon to take on McGregor.

In the wake of the brawl, Nurmagomedov was given a nine-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, retroactive to the date of the incident, plus a US$500,000 (S$690,000) fine. McGregor received a six-month ban and a US$50,000 fine, but he was happy to tell Robbins, "At the end of the day, I landed the final blow of the night, right on his brother's eye socket."

McGregor was referring to a cousin of Nurmagomedov who climbed atop the cage and was punched by the Dublin native. "I seen him there. It was like a Christmas present," McGregor said.

Two other teammates of Nurmagomedov attacked McGregor in the Octagon, after he said they "came right over my back." As he described it, one of the teammates "ran in front of me and went over to the brother that got smacked and was like, 'What happened?'

"I don't know what he was saying," McGregor continued, "but then he turned back and saw me. But I had already saw him, so as he turned back, boom - I smacked him. He wobbled. And as I smacked him and rocked him, another one jumped in from over the back, and he sly-hooked me from the side. And then I covered up.

"That got separated, and then the final one was the original brother who was on the top of the cage - he broke free from the security, ran at 100 miles an hour towards me. He threw a right hand. As he threw that right hand, I threw a left hand. Boom!

"The final blow of the night!" McGregor exclaimed. "So that's it. I win."

As McGregor's suspension was coming to an end in late March, he made a stunning announcement that he'd "decided to retire" from mixed martial arts. However, it wasn't long before he was trading highly unpleasant barbs with Nurmagomedov online, and he told fans in a tweet, "See you in the Octagon."

While Nurmagomedov is tentatively expected to have a September title fight with Dustin Poirier, it's still unknown when and against whom McGregor will be making his return, if at all.

In comments published Tuesday by ESPN, up-and-coming lightweight Justin Gaethje said that he wanted to take on McGregor, and that if the latter is "not going to fight" then the UFC should "take him out of the rankings."

Given the reported plans for Nurmagomedov, it would seem to be in McGregor's interest to find another UFC opponent if he wants to fight at all this year. While it remains to be seen how that plays out, he made it clear that he does want another shot at the undefeated Russian.

"Let's see what happens next time," McGregor told Robbins. "I'm confident we'll get it again - let's go again."

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