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10th Apr 2018

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s manager would have been concerned for John Kavanagh’s safety

"The guy I was worried about the most was John Kavanagh"

Ben Kiely

If John Kavanagh had been in Brooklyn instead of Budapest, that Khabib Nurmagomedov confrontation may have played out very differently.

John Kavanagh wasn’t with Artem Lobov at UFC 223 media day. The SBG head coach was actually in Hungary cornering Brian Moore and Ion Pascu for their respective fights at Bellator 196.

7,000 kilometres away, Khabib Nurmagomedov had a very heated confrontation with ‘the Russian Hammer’ in the UFC 223’s fighters hotel. The Dagestani, along with a large group of his crew, surrounded Lobov in the corridor. Nurmagomedov got in his face, spoke very intensely to him in Russian and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck.

The bus attack involving Conor McGregor on media day was thought to be retaliation for this confrontation.

Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdel-Aziz said on the very heated confrontationthat he was ‘worried’ for Kavanagh during fight week. Kavanagh has made some lighthearted comments about religion in the past which Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim, did not appreciate.

“The guy I was worried about the most was John Kavanagh… He said a lot of things about religion. He said a lot of things about Khabib. It didn’t sit very well with a lot of guys in Dagestan. He made some jokes on the internet and he kept mentioning Khabib’s name.”

Despite claiming that he is not one to hold a grudge, Abdel-Aziz clearly has a problem with Kavanagh. He confessed that he actually enjoys McGregor’s antics, for the most part, but Kavanagh is a different story.

“I don’t care about the guy. I don’t give a shit about John Kavanagh. I’m not trying to say here ‘a nice guy and I love him’ because certain people I don’t like and let people know if I don’t like them. I like Conor McGregor as an entertainer, as a fighter, as a polarising figure. I watch his stuff, it’s crazy. But, John Kavanagh, he lives in somebody else’s dream. It’s not him. I don’t respect people like that. I despise people like that.”

He added that if Kavanagh was with Lobov during the Khabib confrontation, “Artem would be ok. (but) I think probably John would have got whooped.”