UFC 229 Fight Week Diary Day #3: Did Khabib Nurmagomedov make a mistake?

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LAS VEGAS — UFC 229 fight week kicked into gear yesterday and the main event between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov is warming up nicely.

The Park Theatre played host to the UFC 229 open workouts and a good crowd turned up to watch the co-main event and main event fighters get put through their paces.

First up was Nurmagomedov, who showcased a number of grappling sequences where he took his training partners down to the mat using throws and trips. All seemed rather good natured for the most part and the Russian even did a quick Nate Diaz impression as he went through the motions of the fight ending sequence of UFC 196 where McGregor was submitted.

Then the mood changed when Nurmagomedov took to the mic and proceeded to heckle the Irish fans in attendance, questioning why they didn’t speak their own language in an intense and aggressive rant.

Nurmagomedov then made things very personal towards his opponent. During the chaos of the fans shouting back at him, Nurmagomedov spoke about McGregor’s grandfather.

“His grandfather, Christopher McGregor, he worked with the English navy and he killed your people,” he said.

Besides making things perhaps unnecessarily personal like how McGregor had, Nurmagomedov’s comment was ill-timed and would’ve been better had he saved it for the press conference taking place today.

Having had to sit through a barrage of abuse from a well-informed McGregor in New York, Nurmagomedov obviously went away and did his own homework to dig up the dirt on the Irishman. Unfortunately for him, he played his hand way too early and in the process showed emotion like he’s never done before ahead of the fight getting caught up in the moment.

Has McGregor got to Nurmagomedov like he did with Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier and Jose Aldo? It will be interesting to see at the press conference today, but that wasn’t usual behaviour from the Russian who normally keeps cool, calm and composed.

This is all heating up nicely. Bring on the press conference today.

Quintet 3

Tomorrow evening, UFC Fight Pass will play host to Quintet 3, a grappling organization fronted by UFC Hall of Famer Kazushi Sakuraba.

Quintet features a unique team-based format with teams of five facing off in single matches until all the members of one team have either been submitted or eliminated from the match by means of a time-limit draw (both grapplers are eliminated at this point). The event will start with two semi-final matches with the winners going on to compete in a final later on in the evening to determine the Quintet 3 champions.

The four teams play host a star-studded line up with Team Sakuraba captained by the great man himself and featuring former UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett, Urijah Faber and Grodon Ryan competing for Team Alpha Male, Craig Jones and Dan Strauss on Team Polaris, and finally former Quintet champions Team 10th Planet led by Geo Martinez.

On Wednesday morning, we got the opportunity to speak to the legendary Sakuraba and it was revealed that he will indeed face Faber in the opening semi-final with both men featuring first in their team’s line-up. Despite being 49 years of age, the fire in Sakuraba’s eyes was plain for all to see and on Friday Faber’s going to have his hands full when he steps on the mat with the Japanese legend.

This should be the perfect appetizer for Saturday and what looks set to be the biggest fight in UFC history.

Jim Edwards

Jim Edwards

Jim Edwards is a UK based MMA journalist who has been covering the sport for 5 years. You can find his work in Fighters Only on a monthly basis.