Photo: Noah K. Murray for USA TODAY Sports

Dana White boldly expects hated rivals Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor to share a mutual respect one day. That could be the result of another fight, or so he claims.

The discord between the two MMA megastars is well known. It began last April when an incident with McGregor’s good friend Artem Lobov incited mass controversy. McGregor hopped on a plane to Brooklyn and started the now-infamous bus attack that got him arrested. The UFC got a nice little bit of footage to effectively promote the fight that was sure to come, however.

That fight went down at last October’s UFC 229 from Las Vegas. Needless to say, the build-up featured some of the most personal trash talk leading up to a fight. His topics of aim were Khabib’s family, religion, and management. Bad blood was at an all-time high, yet Khabib got the last laugh when he dominated and submitted McGregor in the highest-selling UFC pay-per-view in promotional history.

Rivalry Not Finished

But the rivalry was far from over there. Despite McGregor being dominated for the majority of the fight, despite yet another submission loss, he believed himself worthy of an immediate rematch. He got one after his first-ever UFC loss to Nate Diaz, so why not one with Khabib too, right?

Not so fast. Khabib didn’t seem too keen on giving McGregor another shot at the belt, although the jury is still out on that.

To help persuade him, McGregor flung another incredibly personal attack at Khabib earlier this month, this time targeting his wife. Khabib had understandably had enough, firing back by calling McGregor a rapist. The response was a jab at McGregor’s reported investigation on a sexual assault charge in his native Dublin. In truth, the whole thing became just ugly, to the point even Dana White felt the UFC had to intervene to get the situation under control.

McGregor issued a half-hearted attempt on social media to put at least a temporary end to the Twitter war. Khabib is now expected to move on to face interim champion Dustin Poirier later this year after ‘The Diamond’ beat Max Holloway at UFC 236. Make no mistake, Khabib vs. McGregor isn’t going away for now. It may not happen, but it would be a surprise to not see the UFC cash in on their biggest rivalry one more time.

Rematch Coming?

It sounds like Dana White believes that will be the case as well. White recently told CNN that Khabib and McGregor could one day share a mutual respect for one another. But he said it would come over the course of seven to 10 rounds against each other. That’s obviously something that would only happen if there was a rematch after their initial four rounds:

“I don’t think these guys are going to friends and hanging out and going to dinner and stuff.

“But listen, when you get in there with another guy and you fight it out for what would end up being seven, eight, nine, 10 rounds between these two, there ends up becoming a sort of mutual respect.”

Did White just suggest a rematch is coming? Maybe so. It was an interesting choice of words either way.

Khabib and the Irishman certainly don’t seem to share much mutual respect after four rounds of fighting. Perhaps another fight could foster that, but both sides would have to some semblance of a moral high road to achieve that. It doesn’t seem likely at this point.

White reiterated he believes it is, however:

“And I think we will get to a point someday where these two have a mutual respect for each other. They don’t have to like each other.”

Indeed they do not have to like one another, and they do not. Whether or not that changes due to a more respectful continuation of their rivalry remains to be seen.