DANA White has been the president of the UFC for nearly 20 years, but the upcoming matchup between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov has something even he’s never seen.
We’re talking about the vicious animosity between the pair.
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It was evident during the press conference for the UFC 229 main event, with McGregor throwing insult after insult at his Russian opponent, but their rivalry dates further back than just this fight.
“These guys hate each other worse than anybody I’ve ever seen in my history here,” White told Main Event following the press conference.
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White then acknowledged that McGregor’s infamous bus incident — which led to legal issues for the 30-year-old — stemmed from an altercation between Nurmagomedov and his compatriot Artem Lobov.
According to White, Nurmagomedov slapped Artem, who’s a close friend of McGregor. This led the Irishman to get on his private jet, fly to Brooklyn, and cause commotion at Barclays Center.
“(It’s) what led to this fight,” White said.
“The bad blood is real. These guys hate each other worse than anybody I’ve ever seen in the history of the sport.
“I’ve seen a lot of animosity, and guys disliking each other in this sport. Cormier-Jones comes to mind, as two guys that hated each other, and many, many others in the history of the UFC, but this hatred between these two is dark.”
The press conference was intense, to say the least. McGregor referred to Nurmagomedov as everything, from a “little weasel”, to a “little fan boy bi***”, to a “backwards c***.”
White called the event “the darkest press conference I’ve ever been a part of,” and it was clear that both fighters had more than just UFC 229 on their respective minds.
Before the press conference, McGregor urged the UFC to allow fans into the arena, but White declined, and believes he was right to do so.
“I know I made the right decision,” White said of not letting fans into the stadium.
“(The) press conference was very dark. It went to places they normally don’t go. A lot of personal stuff. A lot of political stuff. I definitely made the right choice not bringing the fans in.
“I just thank the Lord Jesus Christ that that man didn’t have the balls to come off the bus, or that the bus door didn’t open, because if it did, this man would be dead right now and I would be in a cell,” McGregor said. “I am just here to compete.”
Nurmagomedov’s response was expectedly mild: “Nothing (is going through my head). He showed me his weakness, when he came with 40 people it showed his weakness. Me and him are going to be alone on October 6.”
McGregor telling Nurmagomedov that he would have killed him only adds more drama to a fight that’s being billed as the most anticipated of all time.