Khabib Nurmagomedov’s long-time coach insists ‘The Eagle’ intentionally dragged his fight with Conor McGregor into the championship rounds.
Javier Mendez, the founder of American Kickboxing Academy, claimed that Khabib Nurmagomedov purposely submitted Justin Gaethje earlier than he finished Conor McGregor.
Nurmagomedov choked Gaethje unconscious in the second round of the UFC 254 main event, reportedly switching from an armbar to a triangle so as not to hurt his opponent in front of his family.
The hostility-fuelled grudge match between Nurmagomedov and McGregor two years earlier went into the fourth round, when the undefeated Russian submitted McGregor via neck crank.
But Mendez rejects suggestions that Nurmagomedov found McGregor a more difficult opponent than Gaethje.
According to Mendez, Nurmagomedov wanted the UFC 229 main event to go on longer so that he could inflict more damage on McGregor.
“I gather Khabib likes Justin a lot because he finished him sooner than he would’ve with most people,” Mendez told The Sun.
“He likes to punish people a bit, ground and pound them.
“But Justin’s parents were there and he knew Justin wouldn’t tap and he didn’t want to break his arm in front of his parents.
“Khabib purposely let Conor go longer, he purposely stood with him, he wanted to punish him.
“Just because Conor went four rounds it doesn’t mean Khabib had a tougher time trying to finish him – Khabib wanted to punish Conor, he didn’t want to do that with Justin.”
Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after successfully defending his lightweight title against Gaethje and he was rewarded with the No. 1 place on the UFC’s official pound-for-pound rankings when they were updated on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, McGregor branded Gaethje’s performance against Nurmagomedov ’embarrassing’ in a now-deleted tweet.