Khabib Nurmagomedov’s agent has branded Conor McGregor a “balloon” after taking aim at the UFC fighter for his new heavier frame, and claimed that the Irishman’s team have consistently lied about the lead-up to their initial fight 15 months ago.
McGregor will return to the UFC un under two weeks’ time to compete against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in what will be his first appearance since suffering a submission loss against Khabib at UFC 229 – which came as the 31-year-old’s second MMA defeat of his career and means that he has not won in the UFC since November 2016.
The Dubliner has been vocal in his desire to face current lightweight UFC champion Khabib in a rematch even though he must get Cerrone out of his way first, with Tony Ferguson set to get the first shot at the title in his scheduled bout that is set to headline UFC 249 in April.
But McGregor’s trash talk – claiming that Khabib is “trembling with fear” at the thought of a rematch – has prompted a response not from the fighter himself, but from his manager Ali Abdelaziz, who took direct aim at the former featherweight and lightweight champion as well as his coaching team.
“Listen, his coaches before the (Khabib) fight said: ‘He’s ready, he’s gonna knock Khabib out inside three rounds, he’s never been in better shape,’” Abdelaziz told TMZ.
“And after that, they said they had a horrible camp, his foot was like a balloon. They’re liars.”
Abdelaziz added: “He looks like a blew-out balloon. He’s a bodybuilder. That’s what I think. He’s getting no love from us.”
Should McGregor and Khabib make it through their upcoming fights unblemished, a rematch appears to be a near-certainty given the money it would generate and the bad blood that remains between the two camps due to their UFC 229 clash.
Both were sanctioned for their roles in an ugly brawl at the UFC 223 media day, when McGregor and his team stormed the Barclays Center in New York and attacked the bus carrying Khabib and a number of other fighters.
Khabib responded by leaping over the Octagon fence immediately after McGregor tapped out in their contest to attack members of his entourage, which also landed him in hot water with the UFC.
However, McGregor cannot afford to look beyond next weekend’s contest with Cerrone, who goes into the bout as a massive underdog and has been widely overlooked by critics who are predicting a comfortable win for McGregor – so much so that UFC president Dana White spoke out this weekend in condemning the disrespect being shown to the American.
“We’re getting through this one first, we’re getting through the Cowboy fight,” White told ESPN when asked about McGregor’s future plans.
“And the level of disrespect shown to Cowboy through this whole thing? Apparently people forgot that Cowboy’s lost two in a row before and come back and gone on unbelievable runs. Let’s not count Cowboy out.”
Cerrone has lost half of his last 10 fights, the most recent of which saw him stopped by Justin Gaethje in the first round of their encounter last September.