The UFC 229 pre-fight press conference at the Park Theater in Las Vegas on Thursday had an interesting look, as lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov had left by the time star Conor McGregor arrived.
If you ask Khabib Nurmagomedov, the UFC lightweight champion, he was the professional. He showed up on time at Thursday’s UFC 229 pre-fight press conference. If you ask rival Conor McGregor, the biggest star in the sport, Nurmagomedov knew exactly what he was signing up for. McGregor’s tardiness was the talk of the press conference early, as the former two-division champion was reportedly running late, stuck in traffic. That led to UFC President Dana White and champ Khabib starting the press conference without him — even with a raucous Irish crowd present at the Park Theater in Las Vegas.
Khabib answered questions dutifully, if simply. “I no need wait for nobody,” he started off. Wait until Saturday was a common refrain. No, he wouldn’t shake McGregor’s hand after the fight, win or lose. Yes, he feels the issues between them are bigger than just a fight in a cage. And before long, Nurmagomedov was gone — long before McGregor had even shown up.
That left White to field a few questions on his own, up until his biggest star did finally arrive. When he did — once again, it was the Conor McGregor show.
“He knew what he f*ckin’ signed up for,” McGregor said of the champion, who had walked out a short time earlier. “I’ve been late for this. The traffic was a little heavy, there must be a McGregor fight on. I don’t know where the little fool is.”
“He’s better off running anyway,” McGregor quipped about his opponent Saturday. “I bet you he was saying a load of sh*t when I wasn’t here. He didn’t say anything the last time though. Whatever, it is what it is.”
“I did not plan this,” McGregor added. “I tried to get here. I’m only a couple of minute’s late for f*ck’s sake.”
“He doesn’t want to be around me. He doesn’t want to be around these people,” the Irish star continued to the roar of the crowd in attendance.
There were no more surprising revelations, at least to the casual fans, about the company Nurmagomedov keeps on Thursday. At the previous press conference, McGregor had pointed out his opponent’s connections to Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadryov and jailed Russian Oligarch Ziyavudin Magomedov. However, McGregor did turn his ire on manager Ali Abdelaziz, a reputed former snitch for the NYPD and FBI with terrorist connections.
When asked if he’d fight Khabib more than once, McGregor answered “We’ll see what happens,” but added “I’d like to fight Ali. I’d like to fight that rat bastard. I’d like to fight him somewhere. What’s he at? Mouthin’ out of him, non-stop. He’s had a few fights.”
When told Nurmagomedov predicted Ali (whose martial arts credentials are dubious) would choke McGregor out, the fighter answered “get the fight promo started. A snitch versus an Irish proper animal. Let’s go!”
As for McGregor’s motivations, when questioned, he exclaimed that “I’m starving. I am starving for that man’s head. I am going to eat him alive in here. And I don’t give a bollocks. So there’s no way this man’s hungrier than me. There’s nobody that’s hungrier than me in this game.”
UFC 229 takes place October 6 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.