Drinking, unprotected sparring and three-day parties: Conor McGregor reveals how it all went wrong against Khabib Nurmagomedov

Jack de Menezes
The Independent
Conor McGregor will return to the UFC to fight Donald Cerrone: PA
Conor McGregor will return to the UFC to fight Donald Cerrone: PA

Conor McGregor has revealed the series of events in the lead up to his defeat against Khabib Nurmagomedov that saw the Irishman drinking all week, competing in unprotected sparring and partying for days on end in celebration of knocking opponents out.

The 31-year-old suffered the second defeat of his UFC career when he submitted to Khabib in their October 2018 lightweight championship bout, which failed to end the pair’s bitter feud as the victor immediately leapt over the Octagon fence to attack the Irishman’s coaching team.

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The Dagestani fighter was able to dominate McGregor like never before, cementing his place at the top of the lightweight rankings in the process, but McGregor has repeatedly insisted that he would win any rematch because of things that he did wrong in his preparations.

In the months before the fight, McGregor embarked on setting up his Proper No 12 Whiskey company, which led to many believing he had allowed himself too many distractions ahead of what was the toughest bout of his career.

But according to the Irishman himself, the events before UFC 229 were much worse than could have been expected. The Dublin-born fighter revealed on Monday night how he would invite fighters from a nearby hotel for brawls without headguards in a full-blooded sparring session, and upon winning head out for parties days on end.

“I was drinking all bleeding fight week,” McGregor told Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “I had venom in me or something.

“I had people holed up in a hotel and I would ring and arrange a fight, they would come to the gym and have a full-blown fight with no headguards.

“I'd have a war, win and knock the guy out and go off and celebrate and come back in three days.

“I wasn't doing what I should have been doing; I've made mistakes and I've been man enough to admit them.”

There were also further issues for McGregor outside of MMA. Last year McGregor was fined £860 for an unprovoked attack on an elderly man at a bar, punching him in the face when he refused to drink a shot ordered by the UFC fighter, which proved an unnecessary distraction in what proved to be an inactive 2019.

“If I'm in the wrong, I'm in the wrong,” he continued. “I let people down and that's it. I'm in a position where I must take control of things and not shy away.

“I've never done that in my career and I never will; the people who believe in me and support me deserve better.

“I'm putting in the work and the focused work, that's why we're in such good spirits.”

McGregor will end his 15-month inactive streak this Saturday when he meets Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246 in Las Vegas, with the former two-weight world champion attempting to re-establish his reputation within the sport in an effort to earn a rematch against Khabib.

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