Undefeated Russian UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov tweeted out a message, which was widely perceived as an unequivocal jab at Conor McGregor, who announced his retirement from the sport earlier in the day.
There can be only one king in the jungle.— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) 26 марта 2019 г.
Only ☝️ pic.twitter.com/BuqVNUkoR0
Khabib’s tweet was sent as a clear reference to his recorded challenge to boxing champion Floyd Mayweather in the wake of McGregor’s crushing defeat to Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas last October.
“Hey, let’s go, Floyd. We have to fight now. 50-0 vs. 27-0. Two guys never lose. Let’s go. Why not? Because in the jungle [there is] only one king. Only one king. Of course, I am the king because he cannot drop McGregor, but I drop him easily”, Khabib said at the time.
While McGregor may or may not be preparing his response to Khabib’s latest pass, social media users have been increasingly active on Nurmagomedov’s reply section on Twitter. Some have sent messages of support for Khabib, recognising him as the “only king in the jungle”:
And his name is King Khabib ☝️— B@$$ (@24onlinee) 26 марта 2019 г.
You made the man no longer want to fight.. that’s rough lmao. GOAT— GingerJ (@2018JLH) 26 марта 2019 г.
You made Conor retire. The king of the jungle defended his title and broke McGregor— Enis Guri Gashi (@enisg4shi) 26 марта 2019 г.
Others, however, stuck up for the Irishman, who, in their view, was the MMA king:
beating the king once, does not make you the king— Robby V (@rtvestey) 26 марта 2019 г.
there is only one king Conor McGregor 👑👑🇨🇮🇨🇮🇨🇮 pic.twitter.com/XMnBpczDIC— Isa (@Isa54093038) 26 марта 2019 г.
Atleast you accepted that he is a king. All hail the best King @TheNotoriousMMA— shivam thakur (@869Shivam) 26 марта 2019 г.
In a 26 March tweet, McGregor, the former two-division champ, made a “quick announcement” to his 7.5 million followers that he had decided to leave MMA. His message, however, didn’t specify whether his fans will see him participate in other sports.
Hey guys quick announcement, I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as “Mixed Martial Art” today.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) 26 марта 2019 г.
I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition.
I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement.
Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!
In December, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh told the Irish Independent that he was not sure whether the athlete would be returning to the octagon and said that he didn’t want Conor to risk himself unnecessarily, because he had family.
Even though many fans doubt that his decision is final – and real, UFC President Dana White said he understood the athlete’s move given his wealth and the commercial success of his whiskey brand, Proper No. 12, according to The Irish Times.
“He has the money to retire and his whiskey is killing it. It totally makes sense. If I was him I would retire too. He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and I look forward to seeing him be as successful outside of the Octagon as he was in it”.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor are both currently serving Nevada State Athletic Commission suspensions for their involvement in the post-fight brawls at UFC 229 in October 2018. During the historic bout, Khabib managed to knock Conor down with an overhand right in the second round before ultimately forcing the Notorious to tap out in the fourth round.