Michael Bisping: Khabib blew his shot to fight Conor McGregor

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Conor McGregor will never fight Khabib Nurmagomedov after Nurmagomedov’s failure to make weight at UFC 209, middleweight champ Michael Bisping said. (Getty Images)
Conor McGregor will never fight Khabib Nurmagomedov after Nurmagomedov’s failure to make weight at UFC 209, middleweight champ Michael Bisping said. (Getty Images)

Khabib Nurmagomedov may have lost more than just one payday on March 3 when he failed to make weight for his interim lightweight title fight that was scheduled for March 4 in the co-main event of UFC 209 in Las Vegas if middleweight champion Michael Bisping is correct.

A fight between Nurmagomedov and lightweight champion Conor McGregor could have been one for the ages.

It would have pitted the smothering grappling style of the Russian against the accurate, powerful striker from Dublin, Ireland. Combine those attributes with their ability as two of the best trash talkers in the sport, and it was a bout that seemed destined for 1 million pay-per-view sales as well as a career-best payday for Nurmagomedov.

If Nurmagomedov hadn’t needed to be hospitalized and had made weight and then won his UFC 209 bout with Tony Ferguson, a big-money bout with McGregor seemed certain to follow.

Nurmagomedov became sick during his weight cut and was transported in the middle of the night to Sunrise Hospital, where he was immediately given an IV to help rehydrate him. With that, he was out of the bout against Ferguson and also may have lost a chance to ever fight McGregor.

This was the second time in five years in the UFC that Nurmagomedov had to pull out of a fight for failing to make weight. “The Eagle” came in at 158.5 pounds for a UFC 160 bout against Abel Trujillo. Needing to lose 2.5 pounds to get to the 156-pound limit, Nurmagomedov refused and gave up 20 percent of his purse.

A failed weight cut cost Khabib Nurmagomedov a shot at Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 and potentially a lightweight title bout with Conor McGregor, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping said. (Getty Images)
A failed weight cut cost Khabib Nurmagomedov a shot at Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 and potentially a lightweight title bout with Conor McGregor, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping said. (Getty Images)

McGregor is an astute businessman in addition to being an elite fighter, and given the difficulty Nurmagomedov has had getting to the post on a regular basis, Bisping said on his new podcast, “Believe You Me” that it would be hard to get the Irishman to fight him.

“One-million percent, it kills his chances of ever fighting Conor and it puts the UFC in a very difficult position,” Bisping said on the podcast. “If they make that rematch between Khabib and Tony, and Khabib wins, there is no way Conor is going to accept that because he is going to say, ‘I’m not going to take that risk of having an entire fight camp for him not to make it to the Octagon, so I’m not going to do it.’ ”

McGregor’s been through this song and dance before. He was set to face Jose Aldo in 2015 in the main event of UFC 189 for the featherweight championship. They went on a multi-city world tour to promote the grudge match between the heated rivals. It was all for naught as Aldo pulled out 10 days before the fight due to a rib injury.

The brash Irishman fought Aldo five months later at UFC 194, knocking him out in 13 seconds.

Times are different now. McGregor is the biggest star in the UFC and one of the most popular male athletes in the world. He’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to picking opponents.

At the time, he needed Aldo to get to where he’s at and was willing to wait him out. He doesn’t need Nurmagomedov to continue bringing in record-setting numbers at the gate and on pay-per-view.

“Look, he’s only competed once in eight years,” McGregor said of Nurmagomedov at the UFC 205 post-fight news conference after knocking out Eddie Alvarez to capture the lightweight title. “You know what I’m saying? He ain’t fight too frequent for my liking. He’s a consistent pull-out merchant.”

The only way Nurmagomedov is going to sniff the lightweight title is for him to face someone not named McGregor.

It’s a shame, too, because this could have been Nurmagomedov’s shining moment. His lack of discipline, however, cost him everything.