Middleweight champion Michael Bisping doesn’t have high hopes for an eventual fight between 155 pound kingpin Conor McGregor and lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Khabib’s unceremonious exit from last Saturday’s UFC 209 co-main event against Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight championship harkens back to when McGregor took on former featherweight champ Jose Aldo.
Aldo pulled out of their scheduled bout several times, even after a world tour and heavy promotion and advertising for his title defense against the Irishman, leaving McGregor with a short-notice opponent in Chad Mendes back at UFC 189.
While “The Notorious” won that fight and eventually dethroned Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194, the middleweight champion believes that Conor will be skeptical going into a potential fight with Khabib, who himself has pulled out twice now in scheduled bouts against Ferguson.
“One million percent, it kills his chances of ever fighting Conor and into puts the UFC in a very difficult position,” Bisping said during his podcast on Monday. “If they make that rematch between Khabib and Tony, and Khabib wins, there is no way Conor is going to accept that because he isn’t going to say, ‘I’m not going to take that risk of having an entire fight camp for him to not make it to the Octagon, so I’m not going to do it.”
Bisping went so far as to call Khabib a “pull-out merchant following the undefeated lightweights hospitalization just a day before he was set to take on Ferguson at UFC 209.
While McGregor has been criticized for not defending his featherweight belt (which he eventually relinquished after taking the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez), Khabib’s pulling out of UFC 209 certainly did not do himself any favors in angling for a title shot.