Conor McGregor may be taking on Dustin Poirier tomorrow morning – but the shadow of Khabib Nurmagomedov still looms over the Irishman.
The rivals endured a bitter and nasty build-up to their grudge match in 2018 which Nurmagomedov won by third-round submission.
The brawl which erupted after the fight showed their was little chance of the animosity subsiding any time soon.
And McGregor has campaigned for a rematch ever since, despite Nurmagomedov’s reluctance and his decision to retire after his win over Justin Gaethje last year.
But as McGregor returns to the cage this weekend, he will do so hoping a KO performance can lure his bitter rival back to the cage.
Here, we reflect on everything the pair have said about a second installment…
“Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.” (October 2018)
“What can I say? It was a great fight and it was my pleasure. I will be back with my confidence high. Fully prepared.
“If it is not the rematch right away, no problem. I will face the next in line. It’s all me always, anyway. See you soon my fighting fans I love you all.” (October 2018)
“When you beat a man convincingly, it’s not necessary to go back for a rematch. But when there is dispute, there must be a rematch. This is not over.” (February 2019)
“The people of Russia deserve this bout to take place, the people of the world deserve this bout to take place. It is an inevitable rematch and a rematch that I will come into sharp and fresh. I will have no injures, no alcohol, no outside influences and I will be fully focused. We will settle it once and for all.” (October 2019)
“You can trust that I will not make the same mistakes next time. I came out well, and in an instant, things changed. It’s as simple as that.” (March 2020)
“All of those events were in 2018, it’s now 2021. What I will say as long as we fight again there will be no issue, that’s it. If he continues to run then I’m not sure, we’ll see what happens.” (January 2021)
“I think he’s afraid to fight me, that’s for damn sure. I don’t blame him. I know exactly what to face. I fought the best of him that night and he fought the worst of me that night. He knows it, I know it, his team knows it.
“I have the answer to destroy that man. He can pull the wool over people’s eyes only for so long, but it is what it is. I know there’s surrounding things regarding the family. If he’s retired then that’s it, I wish him well. But I am who I am and I’m at the top and time will show.” (January 2021)
“In the last three years, he only has one victory in amateur boxing. How does he deserve a rematch?
“He tapped, he begged me, ‘please don’t kill me.’ Tony Ferguson is on the line, guys with a win streak are on the line, not a guy who didn’t do anything in three years.” (June 2019)
“I’m not interested in this fight. He has to deserve this. Come back, win, win, win and make a good winning streak, then we’re going to fight. Maybe UFC and Conor think he can win one fight and make this rematch, I’m not worried about this because there are a lot of good contenders. In the last three years, he has only won amateur boxing fights.” (September 2019)
“I don’t worry about it. That’s what they want. I’m surprised that people even question me about a rematch. It seems that people want to continue the festivities after that fight.
“Everyone saw what happened in the Octagon. I controlled the fight every step of the way, I did everything I wanted to him and he even gave up. How can we even discuss a rematch?” (February 2020)
It’s absolutely not interesting to me. Of course, there is some degree of probability. I have a challenger ahead. Honoured, strong, active. I don’t even think about [McGregor].” (September 2020)
“Before I fought with him, I told him I’m going to make you humble and put you on the line. Two years later, people understand my words. I’m going to put him on the line and make the decision.” (October 2020)
“There must be some motivation, some hunger,” I’ve been in sports for so many years. I’ve been doing it all my life; I have achieved almost everything in this sport and there isn’t someone who I would like to fight now.
“I know that there are many fighters who would like to earn money, who strive for something. What should I do? A lot of people don’t want to understand my side.” (January 2021)