McGre­gor re­turns for Nur­magome­dov grudge match

Observer on Saturday - - Sport -

LAS VE­GAS - Conor McGre­gor makes a lon­gawaited re­turn to the mixed mar­tial arts oc­tagon yes­ter­day fac­ing off against un­beaten light­weight cham­pion Khabib Nur­magome­dov in a money-spin­ning grudge match tipped to break pay-per-view records.

Trash-talk­ing Ir­ish star McGre­gor was one of the high­est earn­ers in the sport­ing world in 2017 af­ter pock­et­ing around $100 mil­lion from his cross-com­bat box­ing bout against Floyd May­weather, which ended in de­feat.

Now the 30-year-old for­mer UFC cham­pion is set for an­other hefty pay­day when he faces Nur­magome­dov at the T-Mo­bile Arena in Las Ve­gas to­mor­row in what will be his first MMA bout since Novem­ber 2016.

Book­mak­ers have in­stalled Nur­magome­dov as favourite to re­tain his UFC crown, point­ing to the Rus­sian's for­mi­da­ble record.

Nur­magome­dov has won all 26 of his fights, and so far in his ca­reer has not lost a sin­gle round. Tak­ing on the pow­er­ful cham­pion from Dages­tan in his come­back fight rep­re­sents a colos­sal gam­ble by McGre­gor.

But the drum­beat for a show­down be­tween the out­spo­ken for­mer plumber from Dublin and Nur­magome­dov in­ten­si­fied ear­lier this year when McGre­gor was at the cen­tre of an ex­tra­or­di­nary melee in New York in April.

McGre­gor and his en­tourage re­port­edly sought to con­front Nur­magome­dov fol­low­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Bar­clays Cen­tre, claim­ing the Rus­sian had in­tim­i­dated one of the Ir­ish fighter's friends, Artem Lobov.

McGre­gor was filmed hurl­ing a dolly through a win­dow of a bus car­ry­ing Nur­magome­dov and other fight­ers as it moved through a load­ing dock at the venue.

The for­mer cham­pion was later given five days com­mu­nity ser­vice and or­dered to un­dergo treat­ment for anger man­age­ment.

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