Conor McGregor predicts Khabib Nurmagomedov will be stripped of UFC lightweight title

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Mike Bohn and John Morgan
·3 min read
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ABU DHABI – Conor McGregor doesn’t appear to be overly optimistic Khabib Nurmagomedov will be coming back to the UFC.

Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC), who remains retired following his lightweight title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, recently doubled down on his lack of desire to return to the octagon for more fights. The belt still is his for now, and UFC president Dana White has claimed “The Eagle” will consider a comeback if something “spectacular” happens at UFC 257 on Saturday.

McGregor (22-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) meets Dustin Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC) in the main event. Dan Hooker is set to meet former Bellator champ Michael Chandler in the co-main event. All four men will be looking to jockey for title position in the fight, but McGregor, who is Nurmagomedov’s biggest rival, said that while he wants a rematch of his October 2018 loss at UFC 229, he’s no longer chasing it.

“I don’t really care,” McGregor told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the UFC 257 pre-fight news conference Thursday. “He did not say (he needed something spectacular) – Dana said that. Let’s just get through the fight. All these men are up here. There’s plenty of challenges and it’s a tough business. Things have gone on in his personal life. I don’t wish him any harm. It was in 2018 (we fought). A lot of time has passed. The world knows this fight is not over. This war is not over. This sport needs it to happen. The people need it to happen. I’m not going to chase him. That’s it. I’ll keep my calm and move on. I’m back here at the 155-pound division. I’ll show the world what’s what over time.”

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McGregor does think, however, that a decision must be made at some point regarding the belt. If he had to look into the crystal ball regarding his future, McGregor said he expects the belt to be taken from Nurmagomedov by the UFC brass in the near future.

“I would make the case if that man is continuing to dodge this and dodge the commitment of competing again, the title should be stripped and we should be engaging in a (vacant) title fight,” McGregor said. “I’m sure it will happen after this bout. I’m interested to hear the excuses or what will be said after the fight, but I predict a title strip.”

McGregor and Nurmagomedov spent a portion of this week in the same hotel on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. There was heightened awareness by UFC about ensuring they didn’t cross paths, but even if they did, McGregor said his emotions have tempered to the point that a face-to-face run-in likely wouldn’t be a dramatic issue.

“All of those (events) were 2018. It’s now 2021,” McGregor said. “What I will say is, as long as we fight again there will be no issue. If he continues to run, then I’m not sure. We’ll see what happens.”

Before a Nurmagomedov rematch can become even the slightest possibility, though, McGregor said he needs to beat Poirier for a second time at UFC 257, which takes place at Etihad Arena and airs on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.