McGregor releases statement on 'fair and square' defeat to Nurmagomedov

The 30-year-old Dubliner was comprehensively beaten by the UFC lightweight champion on 6 October.

Conor McGregor dejected after losing Conor McGregor in the aftermath of his recent defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Source: USA Today Sports/Stephen R. Sylvanie/INPHO

FOR THE FIRST time since the fight took place, Conor McGregor has spoken extensively about his defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in Las Vegas.

Over two weeks on from his first mixed martial arts bout in almost two years, McGregor — who suffered a fourth-round defeat to the reigning lightweight champion — offered his own assessment of where it went wrong in a lengthy social media post.

Significantly, he also stated that a rematch with the undefeated Nurmagomedov won’t be required in order to guarantee his return to the octagon.

Acknowledging that although the champion won the first round on the judges’ scorecards, McGregor insisted that he took the opening frame “from a fight standpoint” as the Russian didn’t make the most of his position of control after securing an early takedown.

“I believe from a sport standpoint, round one was his. Top position against the fence. Zero position advancement or damage inflicted. But top position. From a fight standpoint the first round is mine.

“Actual shots landed and a willingness to engage. Straight left early. Knee to the head on the low shot. Elbows in any and all tie-up scenarios. Opponent just holding the legs against the fence for almost the entire round.”

In the second round, McGregor was unexpectedly dropped by an overhand-right punch from Nurmagomedov, who’s predominantly regarded as a wrestler. The challenger felt that this moment was pivotal in the overall context of the bout.

Conor McGregor with Khabib Nurmagomedov 'I gave his upright fighting no respect in preparation' Source: USA Today Sports/Stephen R. Sylvanie/INPHO

Ultimately, McGregor felt that he underestimated this area of Nurmagomedov’s game. He also expressed regret for not trusting his own abilities.

“Round two: He is running away around the cage before being blessed with a right hand that changed the course of the round, and the fight. It was a nice shot.

“After the shot I bounced back up to engage instantly, but again he dipped under to disengage. That is the sport and it was a smart move that led to a dominant round, so no issue. Well played.

“If I stay switched on and give his stand-up even a little more respect, that right hand never gets close and we are talking completely different now. I gave his upright fighting no respect in preparation. No specific stand-up spars whatsoever. Attacking grapplers/wrestlers only. That won’t happen again.

“I also gave my attacking grappling no respect. Too defence-minded. Lessons. Listen to nobody but yourself on your skill set. You are the master of your own universe. I am the master of this. I must take my own advice.

“Round three: After the worst round of my fighting career, I come back and win this round. Again walking forward, walking him down, and willing to engage.”

Despite an improved showing from McGregor in the third round, the fight was over in the fourth when Nurmagomedov sealed the 27th professional win of his career by forcing his opponent to tap out to a neck crank.

Khabib Nurmagomedov submits Conor McGregor in the fourth round to win Nurmagomedov finished the fight with a submission in the fourth round. Source: USA Today Sports/Stephen R. Sylvanie/INPHO

“Round four: My recovery was not where it could have been here. That is my fault. Although winning the early exchanges in [round] four, he dips under again and I end up in a bad position with over three [minutes] on the clock.

“I work to regain position and end up upright, with my back to the fence. A stable position. Here, however, I made a critical error of abandoning my over hook at this crucial time, exposing the back, and I end up beaten fair and square.”

UFC president Dana White has reiterated his belief that Khabib Nurmagomedov’s next title defence should be against leading lightweight contender Tony Ferguson.

McGregor says he won’t object to being matched with an opponent other than Nurmagomedov for his next outing, with many calling for a trilogy bout against his old rival Nate Diaz.

“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.”

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Paul Dollery

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