Khabib: My Fight With McGregor Was Bigger Than MayMac

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Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov believes his UFC 229 main event with Conor McGregor was a bigger fight than the Irishman’s blockbuster boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather.

2017 saw a collision billed as “The Money Fight” and “The Biggest Fight In Combat Sports History.” It pitted undefeated 11-time five-division boxing world champion Mayweather against former two-division UFC titleholder and then-155-pound king McGregor.

While the battle of boxing vs. MMA has essentially become a norm in today’s crossover culture, back then it was as historical as it was lucrative.

Following one of the most covered and notable international media tours and build-ups combat sports has ever seen, the pair shared the squared circle inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. After going nine rounds with the boxing GOAT contender, McGregor was finished in the 10th frame.

The numbers behind the clash were staggering. The contest grossed a remarkable $938 million, sitting in second on the all-time list behind only Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao’s 2015 match ($960 million). That feat certainly doesn’t need any more context, but here’s some anyway; the third highest-grossing fight (Mayweather vs. Canelo Álvarez – 2013) raked in $304 million, over $600 million less than ‘The Money Fight’.

With that number in mind, it’s no surprise where Mayweather vs. McGregor sits on the pay-per-view buys ladder. Once again second to only Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, the 2017 crossover fight jumped to the #2 spot after attracting 4.3 million buys, nearly two million more than the third-placed bout.

What did all that help secure? A reported $280 million purse for “Money” Mayweather and a $130 million boost for the “Notorious” McGregor.

Khabib: McGregor vs. Mayweather Was More “Fake”

While Mayweather vs. McGregor is widely regarded as one of, if not the, biggest fights of all time, one man shares a different sentiment.

Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the leading contenders in the debate surrounding the greatest of all time in the UFC, believes his own grudge match with McGregor clearly surpassed Mayweather’s.

During an appearance on the Full Send Podcast, “The Eagle” cited the background to the UFC 229 main event and the memorable nature of the fight as the reasons why no other matchup comes close, especially not the “sparring” session between Mayweather and McGregor.

“For sure this is biggest fight in history of martial arts. Nothing close, I think,” said Khabib. “Even when he fight with Mayweather, it’s like, ‘OK.’ But not many people care about this fight. It was historical event: MMA champion vs. boxing champion. 

“But inside the fight, many people, they don’t even remember what happened inside the fight. For example, in what round referee stop this fight? Most of the people don’t remember,” continued Khabib. “They don’t remember because it was like sparring fight. For me, it was not real fight because (McGregor) is not real boxer. And Mayweather, what he did—for me, it was like more fake fight. This just my opinion, maybe not.

“And then what was between us, it was real. And everything (that) happened before the fight, inside the fight, after the fight (was real),” concluded Khabib.

Whether for positive or negative reasons, UFC 229 was undoubtedly one of the most memorable events in UFC history.

From the pre-fight exchanges, which saw McGregor attack Khabib’s family, religion, and country, to the fight itself, which saw the Dagestani extend his unbeaten record with a fourth-round neck crank submission, to the post-fight brawl, it’s hard to forget what transpired on October 6, 2018.

While it attracted 2.4 million PPV buys, leaving daylight to the UFC’s second-highest tally in that regard, can it be regarded as “bigger” across all aspects than Mayweather vs. McGregor? It’s certainly an interesting debate to have.

Do you agree with Khabib Nurmagomedov?

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