On this day: Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov clashed after one of the most gruesome buildups at UFC 229

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Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) vs. Conor McGregor (right) at UFC 229 [Image Courtesy: @ufc via X/Twitter]

Five years ago today, Conor McGregor crossed swords with arch-nemesis Khabib Nurmagomedov in one of the most explosive bouts in MMA history. At the time, both men were in unique positions where they had to fight each other for various reasons, from both a competitive standpoint and a personal one.

At the time, Conor McGregor was still regarded by many as the rightful UFC lightweight champion, as he was not beaten for the title. Instead, the promotion stripped him after a long stretch of inactivity in the sport, as he had gone on to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a highly anticipated bout.

Meanwhile, Khabib Nurmagomedov had captured the lightweight crown by defeating Al Iaquinta, a man the MMA community regarded as an over-ranked fighter. Al Iaquinta came in on short notice to replace Max Holloway, who was himself coming in on short notice on behalf of an injured Tony Ferguson.

Given the level of opponent he'd beaten and the fact that it was for the vacant title, Nurmagomedov needed to legitimize himself as champion. There was no better way than by beating the previous champion, Conor McGregor. The buildup to their bout was riddled with deeply personal insults that punctuated a heated feud.

When the two men finally met inside the octagon, a four-round affair that saw several firsts ensued. McGregor was knocked down for the first time in his combat sports career, while Nurmagomedov lost a round for the first time. However, the bout was a largely dominant affair in the Russian's favor.

In round four, he submitted his foe with a neck crank. However, still incensed, 'The Eagle' scaled the fence and jumped out of the octagon to attack Dillon Danis, who sat in Conor McGregor's corner, sparking the most infamous brawl in MMA history, which ended with both McGregor and Nurmagomedov fined and suspended.


Why does Conor McGregor hate Khabib Nurmagomedov so much?

Years ago, Khabib Nurmagomedov slapped the Irishman's then-close friend Artem Lobov over the latter's disrespectful remarks in an interview. The incident was filmed and uploaded to the internet, enraging Conor McGregor to the point of boarding his private jet with a group of associates.

They then headed to New York, intercepting a bus carrying fighters (including Khabib Nurmagomedov) out of the Barclays Center, where they had just finished fulfilling their media and promotional obligations. McGregor and his cronies attacked the bus before fleeing the scene and later being arrested.

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Edited by Ken Cameron
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