Ali Abdelaziz: Conor McGregor is scared of Khabib Nurmagomedov

Kevin IoleCombat columnist

(Warning: Explicit language in the above interview)

Khabib Nurmagomedov figures to become one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts if he defeats Tony Ferguson to win the lightweight title at UFC 223 on April 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

If Nurmagomedov were to secure that victory, it would set up a mega-fight with Conor McGregor, the erstwhile lightweight champ who is being stripped of his title the moment the Ferguson-Nurmagomedov fight begins. That would be among the richest UFC fights in history, were it to occur.

In this interview with Nurmagomedov manager Ali Abdelaziz, I made the point that McGregor isn’t afraid of anyone and he quickly objected.

“The [expletive] is afraid,” Abdelaziz said of McGregor. “He’s afraid of one man. He’s afraid of Khabib Nurmagomedov. … Conor is very smart. I’m going to give him that. He only takes fights he has 80 percent chance of winning. The 20 percent chance is a lucky punch. You understand? Conor McGregor, his coaches, none of these guys want to see this Eagle. Dana said, I love Dana and I have an amazing relationship with him, but I don’t think Dana wants to see it [either].

“The whole thing is this: If Khabib goes out there and demolishes him, and that’s what’s going to happen, this whole Conor thing is gone. All the aura, all the prediction [expletive] is gone. There’s no more Conor. There’s no more 2 million pay-per-view buys. There’s no more Floyd Mayweather rematch. They can make all these rematches, but they’re not going to do the big numbers because they know, man. They’re smart. But look, Conor is scared. He’s nervous. Why would you want to fight a guy who is going to eat your soul?”

Manager Ali Abdelaziz hoists Frankie Edgar after a victory over Chad Mendes in 2015. (Getty Images)
Manager Ali Abdelaziz hoists Frankie Edgar after a victory over Chad Mendes in 2015. (Getty Images)

We spoke about a lot more. Here is a sampling:

• At 1:35, Abdelaziz explains his relationship with Nurmagomedov: “He’s like a little brother to me,” and talks about what makes him special.

• At 2:30, Abdelaziz calls Ferguson a great fighter and says “He’s a champ for a reason.” But he adds, “On April 7, people will see that there are levels to this.”

• At 4:00, Abdelaziz says that Nurmagomedov can’t train in Russia because of his popularity there. He is mobbed wherever he goes. “It’s almost impossible for him to train there,” he said.

• At 7:00, Abdelaziz talks about Nurmagomedov’s strength. “There is nobody in the lightweight division as strong as this kid. He’s as strong as a light heavyweight. Ask D.C. [UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier]. Ask Luke [Rockhold, the former middleweight champion].”

• At 11:50, we talk about pay-per-view sales in the UFC and Khabib’s star. “There are a lot of great fights, but there is one thing: This is the Khabib Show. Tony is the B side. Khabib is the A side. You’ve seen the promo. … When Khabib fights, the numbers go up.”

• At 13:19, Abdelaziz says, “I can guarantee you Khabib will make four times as much as Ferguson” at UFC 223.

• At 21:20, Abdelaziz says that a potential fight between Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre is not that outrageous. He says St-Pierre could make lightweight.

• At 22:30, he says that Nurmagomedov will pummel Ferguson and that Ferguson will never be the same.

• At 26:00, we speak about the possibility of Nick Newell going to the UFC.

• At 31:10, Abdelaziz gives his take on what happened to Fabricio Werdum in his loss to Alexander Volkov last week.

• At 32:00, we talk about Frankie Edgar’s future in the UFC.

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. (Getty Images)
UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. (Getty Images)

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