UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is headed into an important title fight against interim champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on October 24, but Nurmagomedov’s coach Javier Mendez revealed that the toughest matchup at 155 pounds for his fighter was actually a fighter he’d already beaten before.
Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Mendez said that Conor McGregor was easily the toughest out for Nurmagomedov out of a list of top competitors that also included Gaethje, Dustin Poirer and Tony Ferguson.
“Conor, hands down,” Mendez said.
Nurmagomoedv defeated McGregor via fourth-round submission at UFC 229 in October 2018.
UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje
UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje is scheduled to take place on October 24 at a location to be determined. The two most likely destinations are Fight Island in Abu Dhabi or UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nurmagomedov, 31, is undefeated in 28 professional fights. The Russian dynamo is one of the most dominant champions in UFC history, and he’s currently ranked No. 2 on the men’s pound-for-pound list.
Meanwhile, Gaethje, 31, enters the biggest fight of his career having won four straight including his massive upset victory over Ferguson at UFC 249 in May.
Now the two stalwart lightweight champs are set to collide for the UFC’s undisputed lightweight championship at 155 pounds.
McGregor Could Be Boxing Again Soon
McGregor could be headed back into a boxing ring again sometime soon.
The 32-year-old has been teasing a boxing match against WBC welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao in what would be a crossover megafight spectacle similar to the one McGregor did with Floyd Mayweather back in August 2017.
That fight was the second best-selling boxing pay-per-view event in history.
McGregor retired from the UFC in June for the third time in four years. While most pundits don’t believe he’ll stay outside the UFC’s Octagon forever, it does at least appear likely that the fighter won’t climb back inside the cage to fight under MMA rules again for the rest of the year.
So it looks like McGregor could be in another boxing match soon.
Because even if McGregor’s desired Pacquiao crossover superfight fell through for some reason, McGregor still would seem to have plenty of other options available to him for lucrative boxing matches.
Most notably, McGregor has long teased a second fight against Mayweather. In fact, both fighters have expressed a desire for a second fight since their first blockbuster megafight three years ago.
Another potential option would be retired boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi who briefly worked as a sparring partner for McGregor when the fighter was preparing to face Mayweather in the summer of 2017.
Regardless, McGregor isn’t an option for any UFC fighter right now, even if he might actually be considered the toughest out for one of the best UFC champions in the world today.
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