Khabib Nurmagomedov sees his win over Conor McGregor as the best moment of his professional career.
The former UFC lightweight champion was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Thursday and reflected on his impressive run that concluded when he retired following his second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje nearly two years ago. His storied UFC career included wins over notable names such as Rafael dos Anjos, Al Iaquinta and Dustin Poirier, but none of them compare to when he defeated McGregor at UFC 229.
“It was here — this arena — Oct. 6, 2018,” said Nurmagomedov (video provided by MMA Fighting). “The biggest fight in MMA history. I’m very happy I win this fight. I can lose any of my fights, but no way this fight.”
Nurmagomedov and McGregor were embroiled in quite the rivalry, one that got violent before the ‘Eagle’ and the ‘Notorious’ Irishman even shared the Octagon. Several months after the now-infamous bus attack that occurred ahead of UFC 223, the promotion scheduled Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor in what was considered one of the most highly anticipated fights in UFC history.
Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round for the first defense of his newly acquired championship. However, his win was immediately eclipsed by the post-fight melee that started after the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product jumped over the Octagon and into the corner of his rival. Chaos ensued, and both men received fines and suspensions for their actions that night.
Despite the fond memory of finishing McGregor, Nurmagomedov chose not to mention it during his induction speech. He explained why during an appearance on the DC & RC show.
“Already all world was watching this fight,” said Nurmagomedov. “People talk about something when they want to promote this. This fight become bigger than our sport, bigger than MMA, bigger than UFC. Like all the time talking about this fight, I don’t like [it] to be honest.
“But this is like one of the best moments [that] ever happened in my professional career,” continued Nurmagomedov. “2018 October 6 when I finished this guy here…I remember it every day. I remember everything, almost. People never talk about one thing. People never talked about when I jumped, with me jumped all the sport to another level.”
Nurmagomedov fought twice after McGregor, submitting Poirier and Gaethje at UFC 242 and UFC 254, respectively. Hailed as one of the all-time greats in the sport, the Russian still remains involved through his coaching of AKA teammates and serving as president of Eagle FC.