Say what you want about his temper, his bus-assaulting skills, or his bottle-throwing prowess: Conor McGregor is a cash cow at the box office for UFC. Doesn’t matter how foolish or reckless he acts, the man is a draw. With some fans beginning to question UFC’s pay-per-view numbers and, with the last few big fight cards marred by last-minute dropouts or weigh-in drama, UFC needs a doozie: McGregor vs Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
What started out as a pipe dream for fanboys has started heating up as multiple credible online sources are reporting the wheels are in motion for undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and bad boy Conor McGregor to meet in Las Vegas on October 6. The idea is no longer just a “what-if,” but — perhaps — a “when.”
McGregor’s trainer, John Kavanagh, told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this morning that McGregor and his agent, Audie Attar, were “working on” the potential Nurmagomedov matchup and expressed hope it would become a reality.
Nurmagomedov added flames to the speculation when he stated UFC was already “working on a fight” between himself and McGregor. Then came initial reports about potential fight between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at UFC 229 if an agreement between McGregor couldn’t be reached.
By Thursday morning, much-maligned, but often correct, Twitter and MMA personality “Dizz” also dropped a tip he received with a little more background: McGregor has been booked for October 6 at T-Mobile Arena. That date? UFC 229.
I am being tipped off this morning on a rumor that Conor McGregor is booked for October 6 at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas for #UFC229.
I can only imagine that Khabib Nurmagomedov would be the opponent. I mean, that’s the money fight everybody wants to see, anyway.
— #Dizz© in Indy (@TalkMMA) July 5, 2018
To fan more flames, Nurmagomedov and McGregor have even been subtweeting each other all week. Nurmagomedov started it with this Instagram photo of him beating up a defenseless and faceless doll, saying “Smash him #soon.” The “him” Nurmagomedov referred to wasn’t much of a mystery.
Less than 24 hours later, McGregor followed suit by posting a picture of himself with coach Sergey Pikulskiy and Moldovan wrestler Kosti Gnusariov. One need not read the tea leaves very long to see something very well may be brewing. Some real testosterone-driven peacock stuff going down here.
Conor McGregor posted a picture of himself, Sergey Pikulskiy and Moldovan wrestler Kosti Gnusariov to his Instagram page early this morning, a little over 12 hours after Khabib Nurmagomedov's 'smash him soon' post. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have ourselves a fight. #UFC pic.twitter.com/W2GDrvftz9
— Chisanga Malata (@Chisanga_Malata) July 5, 2018
Whether or not this means it’ll be McGregor-Nurmagomedov, we’ll have to wait and see, but it looks pretty likely at this point. McGregor can’t fight in New York until his court case is settled thus Vegas is his best bet for a megafight. The boxing shtick was fine for a second, but it’s time he get back in there before his prime passes him by like a hand truck through a bus windshield.
“I really have seen the spark back lately,” Kavanagh said. “I think that was directed at other areas of his life for a while, building up his business world — which is completely justified. We all know the hard-luck stories of fighters retiring broke. They get pats on the back and they’re forgotten.”
No chance McGregor will let himself fall into that “forgotten” realm, but he needs this fight to help restore some zest to his glory and some funds to his seemingly-drained bank account. He’s one of those polarizing figures who garners great attention, good and bad, to the UFC and MMA. This is his best chance at a warrior’s return as nobody has ever beaten Nurmagomedov.
For Nurmagomedov, this is simply just another chance to wire shut the jaw of a mouthy and potentially-overrated opponent who has an overdue appointment with his foot and the canvas. Just another another tattoo’d notch in his unbeaten legacy.