'Die like a Samurai': Nurmagomedov issues challenge to Conor McGregor

MMA: UFC 205-McGregor vs Alvarez

Conor McGregor is brilliant at promotion, better able to crawl under the skin or in the head of almost any fighter around. But ever since he won the UFC’s lightweight title two weeks ago at UFC 205, refusing to relinquish his featherweight belt as well, he’s been pursued by an unexpected equal at drawing attention – and perhaps a threat to his newly won championship: Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Related: Conor McGregor now makes the rules in UFC ... and everyone else follows

Nurmagomedov, the No1 lightweight challenger, has been demanding a fight with McGregor for days. On Wednesday, he made his biggest splash yet, tweeting a direct message sent to McGregor telling the champion: “to die like a Samurai”.

“Don’t chicken out please,” Nurmagomedov wrote. “I know I’m a bad matchup for you but you the champion and you need to fight the best. It’s OK. Die like an Irish warrior don’t run like a chicken.”

Nurmagomedov is a bad matchup for a lot of fighters. He is 24-0 and ranked the UFC’s 14th-best pound-for-pound fighter. McGregor, however, has not reacted to Nurmagomedov’s pleas. Instead he has suggested he might want to go after Tyron Woodley’s welterweight title. He also is expected to have a third fight with Nate Diaz and UFC president Dana White has said several times that he will have to defend his featherweight title or give it up. The UFC could try to force him to fight Nurmagomedov but McGregor has been able to dictate his recent matchups.

McGregor, who won a second-round TKO over Eddie Alvarez in UFC 205, announced after the fight that he will become a father sometime next spring. Last week White told the Los Angeles Times that McGregor won’t fight before May.

In the meantime, McGregor’s agent, Audie Attar, told the ESPN 5ive rounds podcast that McGregor would consider appearing in the WWE “if the money was right.” McGregor has used fighters in other organizations as leverage against the UFC in the past. Last summer he talked about a fight with boxer Floyd Mayweather during a dispute with White over promotion for the second Diaz bout.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Les Carpenter, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 22.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010