Conor McGregor on Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC title fight: ‘It’s not official, but we’re close’

Conor McGregor on Monday said the pieces nearly are together for his return to the UFC.

“It’s not official, but we’re close,” McGregor told TMZ.com in New York City.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is expected to fight newly crowned lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0 MMA, 10-0 UFC) for the title he once held at some point this fall.

McGregor, after finishing a run in New York, said he hopes the fight will take place in 2018, and all but fully ruled out that it will be at Madison Square Garden in New York in November.

“I believe so – I hope so, (that it will be in 2018),” McGregor said. “I’m pushing for it. You know, I (expletive) love New York City. To be able to be here free, a free man walking around this place – what a city. What a (expletive) city. I’d love to fight in the Garden, again, but I believe this one is for Las Vegas.”

UFC 229 takes place Oct. 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. UFC 232 is the promotion’s year-end card on Dec. 29.

Headliners have not been announced for either of those shows, but the UFC is expected to hold a news conference this week in conjunction with Friday’s ceremonial weigh-ins for UFC 227 in Los Angeles to announce the headliners for many of its remaining shows on the calendar in the 2018 fourth quarter.

Participants in the news conference have not been announced – and in fact, the media event itself has not been made a part of the promotion’s official fight-week schedule. But Nurmagomedov was in Calgary this past Saturday for UFC on FOX 30, and McGregor is in New York.

McGregor won the lightweight belt at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in November 2016 when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez. In the process, he became the promotion’s first fighter to hold two titles simultaneously. Two weeks later, he was stripped of his featherweight belt, having never defended it. Then ultimately earlier this year he was stripped of the lightweight title when Nurmagomedov was crowned the full champion. He never defended the 155-pound belt, either.

This past week, McGregor, 30, and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., for his role in an attack on a UFC fighter bus in April at UFC 223.

McGregor was ordered to undergo five days of community service and one to three days of anger-management classes. McGregor also was ordered to pay restitution for the attack that left two UFC fighters injured. A pair of felony counts of criminal mischief against McGregor were dropped, and he was ordered to not go near three people affected by the attack, including UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa and onetime UFC flyweight title challenger Ray Borg, who were hit by shards of glass and forced to withdraw from scheduled bouts at UFC 223.

Afterward, UFC President Dana White called the attack the “most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company” and put McGregor’s career on halt until the resolution of the case.

But with no travel restrictions imposed by his plea, McGregor can resume his octagon career at any time. His only fight since UFC 205 was when he took a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, which the UFC co-promoted in August 2017. The event was the second highest grossing domestic pay-per-view in history.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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