Conor McGregor had a good portion of his fanbase understandably confused as he thanked a Russian man named Ayub for what he described as a session of ‘proper fighting’.
The Irishman training with a Russian not named Artem Lobov!?
Indeed, it wasn’t immediately evident what message Conor was attempting to send with this move but following a series of rather barbed attacks by him at both Khabib’s teammate and father, Abdulmanap, it has become clear that he is attempting to get to ‘The Eagle’ through indirect methods of provocation.
Posting to his official Instagram, McGregor showed himself post-session with a large Russian man – apparently named Ayub.
View this post on Instagram
I have true respect for the Vainakh soldier. Eye to eye respect. Always be aware that when respect is given out of fear, it is fake. It is the cowards safest first step towards treason. When land is on the line, there are no limits. So there must be no hesitation. Stand strong and stay ruthless! Forever and always 🇮🇪 🇷🇺 ⚔️ Thank you, Ayub. Proper fighting.
So who is Ayub, you ask? Well, after a bit of digging we figured out that the man pictured is Ayub Magomadov, a 29-year-old BJJ black-belt from Grozny, Chechnya.
Ayub is an active competitor on the grappling circuit at 185lbs.
Khabib then posted to his official Instagram alongside Artem Lobov’s UFC Moncton opponent Zubaira Tukhugov – a man who would later find himself in the Irishman’s crosshairs – and referenced the clear attempt by McGregor to play mind games.
I woke up this morning and learned: whoever’s not with us, is not with us. Vainakhs are always with us. The games are being played they say, but we’re expecting war here. ⚔️
Ayub himself took to his own official Instagram to clear up the matter, claiming that is in no way a part of Team McGregor and that he just happened to be in Dublin at the time.
*He has since deleted the post.
Roughly translated, the original post – when active – read as follows:
I was on airplanes, so I could not respond to posts for a long time.
How quickly the information diverges.
I’m not a coach of Conor and I did not belong to any team, I taught jiu jitsu, this is what I make a living.
I was in Dublin, I was offered sparring with Conor and I agreed to check myself.
I was not looking for PR, and so on.
Who signed up for me could see that I did not post anything on my page.
I will always be on the side of my brothers and people!
Please make a repost.
It’s a brief but interesting skirmish that certainly flew under the radar to a certain extent.
We are definitely getting a sense of how the former two-weight world champion is planning to conduct his mental siege this time around, though.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena