Now that the suspensions are out, the question is when will Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov fight again?
It can be recalled that McGregor and Nurmagomedov fought in one of the most popular fights of 2018 and the most controversial one too. Khabib submitted McGregor at UFC 229 then started a brawl that we’ve never seen before. Notorious, just like McGregor’s nickname.
When all was said and done, everybody agreed that a rematch needs to happen. But with Nurmagomedov and McGregor slated to face fines and suspensions, the rematch had to wait. But now that the sanctions have been assessed, it’s time to to proceed.
Last January, the NSAC voted 27-0 to suspend Nurmagomedov for 9 months and fined him $500K out of a declared $2M purse for his involvement in the post-fight brawl that ensued after the McGregor vs Khabib fight at UFC 229. Under the suspension, Khabib is eligible to return on July 6, 2019. McGregor meanwhile, was suspended for six months and fined $50K. The Irishman will be eligible to return to the octagon on April 6, 2019.
Khabib’s cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov and teammate Zubaira Tukhugov each got a one year suspension and a fine of $25,000 each. According to Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz, Khabib would pay for his teammates’ fines and hw (Khabib) will not be returning to the octagon until his teammates’ suspension are done with which means we won’t be seeing Khabib inside the octagon again until October 6, 2019 at the earliest. Abdelaziz also added that they are targeting a November return in New York.
Since New York allowed the UFC to compete in their state, the UFC has held big events at the Madison square Garden in November. It can be recalled that McGregor became a two-weight division champion at the first big event at the Garden when he defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016. The following year, UFC 217 at the MSG featured the return of Georges St. Pierre who captured the UFC Middleweight title by defeating Michael Bisping. This year, UFC double-champion Daniel Cormier successfully defended his heavyweight belt against Derrick Lewis.
Khabib Dominated McGregor
There is no reason why Nurmagomedov wouldn’t want to fight McGregor again. He dominated the Irishman like no other and exposed McGregor’s lack of fundamentals on the ground. When McGregor got submitted by Nate Diaz, we all knew that was the blueprint of beating a powerful striker like McGregor. But Khabib didn’t just choke out McGregor, he mauled him on the ground for several rounds If they fight again, I don’t see how the results are going to change. Unless of course McGregor lands a Jose Aldo punch or if he grows a ground games overnight.
The thing with Khabib will probably be his demands. Last December, his father Abdulmanap told reporters that they will be asking for $30M for the rematch and that the rematch should happen in Russia. Now the UFC has been eyeing a card in Russia which will be headlined by its biggest star and that is Nurmagomedov. So having a Khabib vs McGregor rematch would be huge, but having the rematch in Russia would be bigger money for the UFC. All the UFC has to do is to satisfy Nurmagomedov’s financial demands.
As for McGregor, the Irishman is eligible to return to action earlier and UFC President Dana White said that he would like McGregor to return in the summer. At first McGregor was linked to a showdown with the very popular Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. That rumored bout initially had the blessing of UFC President Dana White but earlier this month, White told reporters that the McGregor vs Cowboy bout isn’t even close to being made. In the same interview, White said that McGregor still prefers a rematch with Khabib as nis next fight. But is McGregor really interested in the rematch?
Does Conor Want It?
McGregor’s Irish pride says yes but when you take a look at how Nurmagomedov dominated him from start to finish, I’m not sure how he beats Nurmagomedov in a rematch. Knowing Conor McGregor though, he’s a guy who’s not concerned about losing. He’s a fighter who’s willing to take on anybody at the right price. So while we’re thinking that Conor doesn’t stand a chance against Khabib, McGregor will be willing to fight even King Kong or Godzilla for as long as he is going to be paid handsomely for it.
But then there’s an argument that McGregor may not want a piece of Khabib again, not after how he lost the fight. Remember when McGregor got submitted by Nate Diaz, he didn’t just ask for an immediate rematch, he had it booked right away by the UFC. If McGregor really wants to fight Khabib again, then we should already have a date by know because we know when these fighters will be returning from their suspensions. But why hasn’t the UFC given us a date yet? Booking UFC fights isn’t as complicated as booking boxing bouts where there are so many hindrances like the promoters. If the UFC really wants the McGregor vs Khabib rematch to happen next, it’s just at the tip of Uncle Dana’s fingers.
There are some rumors that are saying that the UFC may not be willing to book the rematch because they are trying to protect their interest. Remember that McGregor is the UFC’s top cash cow and #1 pay per view star. Would you agree that the Irishman’s stock would fall if he loses a second straight fight to Khabib? Maybe not but then maybe yes too. The UFC has spent a fortune in hyping McGregor and promoting him as the Irishman who isn’t here to take part but to take over. McGregor has indeed taken over but should he lose to Khabib again, maybe the hype is going to be over.
Is It Going To Happen?
Personally, I’m not into the idea that McGregor and the UFC are afraid of losing to Khabib again because this is business and this is the hurt business. I think the UFC is trying to marinate the rematch. Had there been no suspensions expected. I’m sure we would have seen the rematch already. But while awaiting the NSAC proceedings, the rematch has lost a little steam in the minds of MMA fans.
The UFC is merely trying to condition the minds of its fans. At some point this year, there has to be something that happens that stirs up this conversation again. Once that happens, booking the rematch will be as easy as 1-2-3. The Khabib vs McGregor rematch is going to happen not only because McGregor wants his shot at redemption but because it is a fight that the UFC needs it to happen.
When you take a look at the UFC right now, there is no bigger fight to make than Khabib vs McGregor 2. It’s the fight that has potential to break PPV records and all. It will definitely be a huge payday for all the parties involved. And because it’s such, I think both camps are willing to make that fight happen. Will it happen in 2019? Don’t count out New York in November yet.
Upcoming UFC Fight Predictions
March 16 – UFC Fight Night London: Till vs Masvidal
Match 23- UFC Fight Night 148: Thompson vs Pettis
March 30 – UFC on ESPN 2: Barboza vs Gaethje