Conor McGregor rips on Khabib Nurmagomedov: ‘Khabib scurried out of the US to home’

April 2, 2020

Conor McGregor has been screaming from the rooftops about what he believes his country and the world should be doing to stem the tide of the covid-19 global pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped him from using it to take another dig at rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The Irishman has posted a few videos since the novel coronavirus was elevated from an epidemic to a pandemic, spreading across the globe. He both praised his country’s government for increasing restrictions and called on them to do more, including shutting down airports and urging the utilization of the country’s defense forces to ensure restrictions were being obeyed.

Covid-19 has accelerated its spread over the past few weeks, but UFC president Dana White has tried his hardest to keep an April 18 date for UFC 249 intact. He had initially hoped to keep the lightweight championship between Nurmagomedov and challenger Tony Ferguson as the headliner, but that bout has fallen apart and McGregor is using it as a weapon to attack the champion.

“The fact of this matter is, both Tony and Khabib where engaged in a game of chicken here towards the fight bell. With Khabib chickening out first. Making it 3-2 in pullouts in Tony’s favour,” McGregor wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

“Khab scurried out of the U.S to home, and amid the crisis. Very high risk. Congrats Tony.”

Why did Khabib return to Russia ahead of UFC 249?

Nurmagomedov had been in the United States training at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., for the April 18 bout with Ferguson. When things started to shift because of the pandemic, Nurmagomedov made the decision to return home to Russia. 

“We were training in the AKA without any information regarding the fight, where and how is it going to happen,” Nurmagomedov said, as translated by RT Sport. “Then the UFC told us that the fight 100-percent isn’t happening in the States. And they said that 99-percent that it will happen in Emirates, Abu Dhabi.

“After talking to the UFC, we decided to fly over to the Emirates a month before the fight. I don’t remember the exact date, it was 19th or 20th, I’ll have to check. But when we landed in Emirates we learned that they are going to close borders. And no one will be able to leave or fly in, with exception for residents. So we had to fly back to Russia.”

Now, Russia has closed its borders to almost all international traffic. There was a tiny window left open, as Russia still allows private business travel, but Nurmagomedov seemed to shut the door on that idea as well on Wednesday.

“Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight?” Nurmagomedov said.

“I understand everything and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all.”

Perhaps he was referring at least in part to McGregor when he mentioned famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements, as McGregor has done just that in his multiple video posts.

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In fact, McGregor, just before taking a dig at Nurmagomedov on Thursday, almost seemed to be coming to his defense in his tweet immediately prior to that one.

“I am in shape to fight right now! At the beginning of all this, I said to myself – I’m happy I don’t have an official fight booked,” he wrote. “If I did, I would have consumed all the incorrect data to support me taking part in the bout, and I would have followed through, competed. And won.”

Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor via a fourth-round submission at UFC 229 on Oct. 6, 2018. Evidently, the rift between McGregor and Nurmagomedov runs so deep that nothing is off limits, even in the time of a global pandemic.