Khabib says he wouldn’t have let Conor out of the sub if Herb Dean hadn’t stepped in

In a recent interview, Khabib Nurmagomedov made a stunning admission about his infamous event against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in 2018. According to the undefeated Russian champion, if referee Herb Dean hadn’t intervened, he wouldn’t have released McGregor from the fight-ending neck crank submission that forced the Irishman to tap out in the fourth round.

“Everything was fair, I think. He and I, we both knew that we were going to fight,” Khabib said, referring to the highly personal buildup to the blockbuster match. “It’s not just when you meet someone on the street and start to strangle him.”

While admitting McGregor is “one of the best fighters in the world,” Khabib made it clear he had no intention of letting up once he had locked in the decisive submission. “In six months we were assigned a fight, we go out and find out who is better. So that there are no questions left.”

Ominously, the Dagestani wrestler then declared: “Yes, but of course it’s not for death. I would kill him, I think no. I think I wouldn’t kill him, but yes, it’s a loss of consciousness for sure.”

Khabib’s words leave little doubt that had Dean not stepped in to stop the bout when McGregor tapped, the decorated grappler would have rendered the former two-division UFC champion unconscious via choke. “I would control this moment, we will never know. We will never know, but I don’t know how long he would hold on.”

In the aftermath, a brawl broke out and McGregor caught several hits on the back of the head from Khabib’s teammate. He made a full recovery, though his career has never gotten momentum back since that loss to Khabib at UFC’s most lucrative pay-per-view event ever. As for Nurmagomedov, he’d go on to defend his lightweight title twice more before retiring undefeated in 2020.