Report- Conor McGregor receives surprise praise from Khabib weeks after UFC 229 grudge match | UFC | Sport

Conor McGregor receives surprise praise from Khabib weeks after UFC 229 grudge match | UFC | Sport

The pair faced each other last month in the main event of UFC 229, which took place at Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena.

Nurmagomedov retained his lightweight championship with a fourth-round submission victory, but his career-defining triumph was marred by the mass brawl which followed the main event.

A staggering 2.4 million people tuned in for the bout, making it the most-viewed mixed martial arts fight of all time.

A large portion of those viewers were no doubt enticed to watch the fight by McGregor’s controversial pre-fight antics, most notably his attacking of a bus carrying Nurmagomedov last April.

And although he felt McGregor crossed the line with his comments before their eagerly-anticipated showdown, Nurmagomedov is grateful the Irishman brought the eyes of the world to their fight.

“You know, you should give credit to Conor,” said Nurmagomedov during a recent interview with RT Sport.

“He is very popular. Was I as popular before the fight? I don’t think so. But if you compare us as athletes, I proved that I am better.

“But as a star he is much brighter than me. I don’t know how much now, but before the fight, definitely.”

Throughout the build-up to his long-awaited return to the Octagon, McGregor repeatedly labelled Russia’s Nurmagomedov a ‘Dagestani rat’, a phrase which further fuelled the country versus champion theme.

And for Nurmagomedov, his bout with his predecessor at the summit of the lightweight division wasn’t just about proving he was the true ruler of the 155lbs division.

“It was also a rivalry between countries, 100 per cent,” the UFC’s lightweight king added.

“Do you remember my statement? Irish only six million. Russians 150 million.”

McGregor is keen to have a rematch with Nurmagomedov and expressed that desire hours after his fourth professional loss.

And he did so again in a recent conversation with UFC president Dana White.

“Conor and I talked for an hour last week,” White told Express Sport during the UFC 230 post-fight press conference. “And typical Conor. ‘I would love an immediate rematch, I want to fight him again.

“‘But I’ll fight whoever I got to fight to get back to him if that’s not the case.'”