Khabib Nurmagomedov dismissed the idea of a rematch with Conor McGregor on Wednesday, saying that there were far more worthy opponents for him to face before considering another meeting with the Irish fighter.
Nurmagomedov, the UFC lightweight champion, spoke to reporters in London on Wednesday while promoting his September fight against interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier.
Khabib: McGregor Hasn’t Won Anything in Three Years
That fight, scheduled for UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, will unify the lightweight belts after Poirier (25-5-1) picked up the interim title while Nurmagomedov (27-0) was suspended for his part in the brawl after his fight with McGregor at UFC 229 last October.
Inevitably, the prospect of another fight against McGregor – still perhaps the most popular fighter in the UFC – came up during the news conference. But Nurmagomedov made it clear that he felt there were several other opponents who would be far more worthy of a shot at the crown.
“The last three years he has only one victory and amateur boxing. How does he deserve a rematch?” asked Nurmagomedov. “He tapped. He begged me, ‘Please don’t kill me.’ Now he’s talking about a rematch? Tony Ferguson [is] on the line. People who have win streaks [are] on the line. But not the guy who don’t win nothing the last three years.”
Ferguson (25-3) is seen as the likely opponent for the winner of the Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier fight. The 35-year-old American is coming off a win over Donald Cerrone, though he has also said he would like to give Cerrone another chance after their fight last weekend at UFC 238 was stopped by a doctor following the second round.
Nurmagomedov Says Ferguson Deserves Title Shot
Nurmagomedov said that Ferguson is a clear contender who deserves to be in the title picture, though he questioned his recent fight selection.
“He deserves a title shot, in my opinion,” Nurmagomedov told reporters. “But when the UFC asked him to fight Max Holloway, he didn’t take that fight. Right now, the problem is because of him. I don’t know why he didn’t take that fight.”
For now, however, the undefeated champion is focused on the fight in front of him. On Wednesday, he made it clear that he isn’t overlooking Poirier.
“I’m preparing for this fight like I’m going to have the hardest fight in my life,” Nurmagomedov said. “I can’t wait. Sept. 7 is going to be a big, big night for me, for my legacy and for Dustin, too.”
As he almost always does, Nurmagomedov will come into his bout with Poirier as a favorite. But with five straight wins including victories over Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway, Poirier won’t be a pushover, and oddsmakers are giving him at least some chance of winning the fight. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Nurmagomedov is listed as a -300 favorite, with Poirier listed at +230 to hand Khabib the first loss of his career.