Khabib Nurmagomedov ditches UFC 229 presser rather than wait for McGregor

Gamesmanship? Perhaps. But the unbeaten Dagestani had no time for the tardy McGregor at the final news conference before Saturdays UFC title showdown

Khabib Nurmagomedov wasnt about to wait for the pomp and circumstance of a video package to accompany him to the stage.

He certainly wasnt going to wait for Conor McGregor to show up.

The news conference to promote their forthcoming UFC lightweight championship fight was slated to commence at 3pm local time, and Nurmagomedov promptly occupied his station at the microphone exactly then.

Wearing a stoic look, the 30-year-old Russian fielded questions for 14 minutes at least when he could audibly hear them over the roar of the pro-McGregor crowd and then exited stage left with his foe still nowhere to be found.

I dont think about him, said Khabib, a 26-0 fighter who specializes in grappling. I have a schedule. I have to make weight; I have to worry about myself. Why do I have to think about him?

The champion will have to worry about McGregor plenty Saturday when they meet in the octagon at UFC 229 at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena.

For now, Nurmagomedov is only focused on the weight cut, and with good reason. Hes twice experienced complications as he boiled down to the lightweight limit of 155lbs. The first time was in 2013 at UFC 160. His next time encountering trouble at the scale was far more dangerous.

He was set to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 last March, but Khabib was hospitalized after falling ill. The bout was cancelled.

Its closing in on fight time, you just lock yourself in that sauna you smelly Dagestani rat! McGregor screamed when he finally showed up around 3:30, his opponent long gone.

My heart is black towards this man, towards his team, towards his people. I dont give a fuck about him or his people theres way deeper shit than just a fight on Saturday night.

I dont really care about his mentality. I do not give a fuck. Im ruthless here. Im here to put a hole in this mans skull.

Conor McGregor plays to the friendly crowd at Thursdays presser. Photograph: Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

The animus between the fighters dates back to April, when the 30-year-old Irishman hurled a dolly at a bus following a news conference to promote UFC 223 in Brooklyn. Khabib was inside the vehicle, and a fracas ensured. McGregor was eventually charged with assault.

Now, McGregor (21-3) prepares to step inside the octagon to reclaim what he never lost in a fight: his lightweight championship.

McGregor hasnt competed in a mixed-martial arts matchup since November 2016, when he ascended to lightweight and scored a second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.

He never defended that belt, instead opting for a novelty boxing match with Floyd Mayweather that netted him a nine-figure payday.

In his stead, Khabib rose to prominence. And now Nurmagomedov is days away from the moment he always dreamed of: his time on the biggest possible stage.

For Khabib, its immensely personal. He sat on the bus as it was viciously attacked, and he flatly stated that theres no way hell shake Conors hand even after the fight is over.

Thats just fine with McGregor.

Fuck peace, said McGregor, who paused several times during the festivities to peddle his new endeavor, Proper Whiskey. He even rallied his fans to chant Fuck the Jamesons! an ode to his war cry leading up to the fight against Floyd last summer.

There will never be peace here. You should always aim for peace, but if you cant aim for peace, aim between the eyes. And Im going to aim right between his eyes. This is never over. Never, ever over.

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