UFC 229 has been billed as the biggest event in the company’s history and is forecast to set a new benchmark for pay-per-view buys, so it will be a relief to organisers that its two headliners successfully made weight.
All fighters on the card had a two-hour window from 9am local time on Friday to weigh in and Nurmagomedov turned up immediately to scale 155lbs.
McGregor, who appeared a little over an hour later and weighed in half a pound less, will have a final staredown against his rival at a ceremonial weigh-in later on Friday.
The Irishman is returning to mixed martial arts following a two-year hiatus, having made a brief switch to boxing in the interim period to take on Floyd Mayweather in a highly lucrative showdown.
He earned around 100million US dollars (£76m) from that bout in August last year, prompting questions as to how he manages to retain his desire in mixed martial arts at Thursday’s final news conference.
Conducting his media duties separately to Nurmagomedov after arriving late to the Park Theater, McGregor said: “I’m starving. I am starving for this man’s head. I am going to eat him alive in there.
“There’s no way this man’s hungrier than me, there’s nobody that’s hungrier than me in this game. I don’t stop, I’m too on it, I am 24/7 on this game.
“I know who the king is and I’m going to show it on Saturday night.”
— ESPN (@espn) October 5, 2018
McGregor was stripped of his featherweight and lightweight titles due to his inactivity and makes his comeback against an opponent who succeeded him as top dog in the latter division.
Animosity between the pair has ramped up significantly since McGregor threw a dolly at the window of a bus containing several rival fighters, including Nurmagomedov, in April, and the war of words has intensified.
Nurmagomedov revealed he is still irked by that incident in Brooklyn just days prior to UFC 223, when he claimed the vacant 155lbs belt with a unanimous points victory over late replacement Al Iaquinta.
Ahead of the first defence of his strap, the Russian said: “If I say no, this is not true. A little bit.
“Of course I am angry and a little bit emotional. But my job when I go to the cage is I control my emotions and stay relaxed. I’ll keep going and maul this guy.
“Sometimes the anger helps, but most important I stay relaxed. This is most important.”
Their fight is being seen as a classic striker versus grappler contest, but McGregor thinks he holds the upper hand.
“He’s afraid of a clatter,” McGregor said. “Make no mistake, he does not like to be hit, he has novice reactions, he’s a flincher. He’s also easily backed up so I’m very prepared and very aware of what to expect. It’s nothing that fazes me.
“I know every shot everyone throws. I know every move everyone makes, that’s it. I keep my eyes on the game that I run, that’s it. I overlook my empire with a hawk eye.
“I believe he’ll spot an exit and try to take it. But I won’t let it happen.”
The wait is almost over!
— UFC (@ufc) October 5, 2018
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