13 Nov, 2019

Islam Makhachev: Conor McGregor not as good of a fighter since going 'on a serious bender'

Islam Makhachev won’t lie: He wants a fight against former UFC double champion Conor McGregor.

In an interview with RT Sport on Friday, Makhachev (18-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) admitted a fight with McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) would elevate his name and net worth.

While he credited McGregor’s abilities, Makhachev said the Irishman isn’t on par with where he once was. McGregor’s recent lifestyle has gotten the best of him, according to the Russian lightweight.

“He is a good fighter, and you can make a name for yourself fighting him and make some good money,” Makhachev said through an interpreter. “But he is on a serious bender right now, and I don’t think he is as good as he used to be.”

The bad blood between McGregor and Makhachev’s friend and training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is well documented. In the lead up to their UFC 229 clash, McGregor and Nurmagomedov engaged in a war of words that became increasingly personal and has spilled over in the aftermath.

At first, Makhachev admits, the trash talk directed at Nurmagomedov, Dagestan, and his entire team bothered him. However, after seeing McGregor tap to Nurmagomedov in October 2018, Makhachev came to the realization that McGregor’s trash talk wasn’t authentic.

“It bothered me a bit when he was talking trash before his fight with Khabib,” Makhachev said. “Now he has taken a beating, and I realize that he is talking just to stay relevant. We’ve seen him talking a lot before he fought Khabib, but that was just words and nothing behind them.

“(Khabib) shares my point of view that Conor has already taken a beating, so it makes no sense to pay attention to what he’s saying. I was watching their first presser, and there were moments when I thought I wouldn’t be able to restrain myself if I were in Khabib’s place.”

If a fight with McGregor isn’t in the cards, Makhachev plans on continuing to make his push towards the top of the UFC lightweight division. He’s still interested in a fight with Kevin Lee, who Makhachev has exchanged words with on numerous occasions through the years.

When he’s finally ready to fight for a title, Makhachev believes the timing could be perfect. With Nurmagomedov having stated on numerous occasions he doesn’t plan on fighting for much longer, Makhachev thinks he could contend for Nurmagomedov’s vacated title.

“It would be perfect if I get a title shot right after Khabib’s retirement,” Makhachev said. “In any case, I’m going to reach that belt no matter how hard it will be. I have to finish what I started out to do.”

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