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What Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje means for Conor McGregor? (Opinion)

Conor McGregor finds himself in the strangest of position in his UFC career.
Conor McGregor finds himself in the strangest of position in his UFC career.
Mibom Taggu
ANALYST
Modified 30 Jul 2020, 20:37 IST
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Conor McGregor has never been in a more damning position than he is now. During his time with the UFC, McGregor has always been the guy who has driven the narrative.

So it must bug Conor McGregor now that Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to be in control. Control of what he does with his fight career as rumors circulate that "The Eagle" might not wanna fight much longer.

Nurmagomedov's messaging on social media also seems to point in that direction with him angling for two more fights to finish his career with a record of 30-0. While that will be a terrific achievement for a fighter already considered the G.O.A.T, it leaves Conor McGregor in a very unfamiliar spot.

The unfortunate demise of Khabib
The unfortunate demise of Khabib's father has changed the dynamic between "The Eagle" and "The Notorious".

Where does Conor McGregor currently stand in the UFC?

Conor McGregor has never been so powerless in his UFC career and the weirdness of 2020 hasn't helped his cause at all. McGregor had been targeting a "season" this year to get himself back to the form which saw him become the first champ-champ in UFC history.

That has all fell flat due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with Conor McGregor reportedly left frustrated in the sidelines due to UFC's inability to book him a fight. UFC's reluctance is somewhat understandable when you consider the number of eyes that a Conor McGregor fight brings for the promotion.

Dana White wanted McGregor to fight by the end of this year or at the start of the next one.
Dana White wanted McGregor to fight by the end of this year or at the start of the next one.

That's why Dana White wanted Conor McGregor to fight by the end of this year or at the start of next year. But "The Notorious" wanted a season for himself just for one reason; to get back at Khabib after being dominated throughout their first fight.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Khabib's father's death has changed all of that, giving Khabib even more power and leverage in the process. His father's death has probably changed Nurmagomedov's perspective on things.

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While Khabib had been reluctant to give McGregor the rematch before; that seems even more likely at present with the Russian gunning for a legacy fight against George Saint-Pierre. Dana White also seemed open to the move if that is to be Nurmagomedov's last fight.

"At the end of the day, the Conor McGregor [rematch], I know Conor has wanted that fight since the last one [in October 2018]," White said. "That's a fight to make, but I don't know. We'll see how this plays out. Sure, [I would be open to St-Pierre] if it's his last fight. This guy's been great to the company, great to the sport. I like Khabib a lot. I would do anything Khabib wanted to do."- Dana White open to a fight between Khabib and GSP.

That puts Conor McGregor in the toughest spot he's been in during his time with the UFC as he is no longer the one who gets to pick. Conor McGregor finally finds himself on the 'B' side of things, as Floyd Mayweather would say.

No one believed McGregor's claims of retirement when he abruptly tweeted out his retirement after UFC 250. That seemed like a move to draw leverage for himself but the unforeseen situation of Khabib's father's death has changed everything in that regard negatively for the Irishmen.

Conor McGregor had also talked about going after the welterweight title but with a force like Kamaru Usman at the top, McGregor's chances look unlikely at best. A win for Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251 would have made things interesting but McGregor will only get dominated more if he decides to go after Usman.

While his retirement was probably a hoax, Conor McGregor might feel tempted to stay retired as he has nothing more to prove inside the octagon. His last fight against Donald Cerrone also means that he doesn't go out on a whimper from the sport in the same fashion as Ronda Rousey.

Published 30 Jul 2020, 20:37 IST
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