UFC 229 was one of those rare moments when we saw Khabib Nurmagomedov break away from his usual stoic demeanor. The man himself admitted he became “very emotional” during that fight against Conor McGregor, something he considers to be a “mistake.”
“The Eagle” also said he felt a sense of disappointment during the bout itself, particularly when “The Notorious” told him that all the pre-fight hype was “only business.” Thinking he would be in there against a “mentally tougher” opponent, Khabib was left feeling “empty.”
“I was preparing so hard,” the retired undefeated former champion recently told Henry Cejudo and Mike Tyson in the latter’s Hotboxin’ podcast. “When time come and inside the cage when he say this to me… I was talk with him, like crazy, and he give back to me, like ‘Hey, it’s only business.’
“It sounds like when my father go crazy with me, I try to make him stop, you know? I try to find some excuse… Sounds like same thing.
“And I was, ‘What? I was preparing for this thing?’ I was preparing for war, and when I come here, I don’t fight opponent. Like, this is make me empty.
“When I catch his neck and I choke him, like, he tapped. And I think, ‘Hey, you bring, like, thousands people from Ireland here on different part of world. And you tap in front of them? And you talk about warrior or something like this? How you can tap? Go sleep! And he tap.”
After making McGregor submit to a face crank in the fourth round, Khabib was still amped up. It was then when he directed his attention to McGregor’s corner, targeting Dillon Danis at cage side.
“I was like, ‘OK, I need something. It’s not enough. I need something.’ And I see, like, some his corners talk with me, and I think, ‘Oh, I have to bite his heart.’ And I jump to, like, catch something,” he explained.
“At the time, nobody wanna talk with me. I don’t understand. Everybody wanna talk with me in press conference. In Twitter, you know?
“I just try to bite his heart. That time, I really want to bite his heart.”
Khabib continued to indirectly roast McGregor for the dolly stunt he pulled at UFC 223.
“This is real thing,” Khabib said of the post-fight melee. “Real thing is not with bus, you know, when 200 security around, like, camera, everything. This is real thing.
“I was preparing for real war. When I come there, I don’t find nobody. This is put me, like, emotional, because I don’t find nothing. I was expecting more.”