Khabib Nurmagomedov admits he's a "little bit angry" going into his lightweight title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC 229 on Saturday in Las Vegas, but said he will not allow McGregor's brand of trash talk to affect him in the fight.
The UFC held a news conference to promote the event earlier this month in New York, during which McGregor made disparaging remarks about Nurmagomedov, his family and his native Dagestan. He called Nurmagomedov's father and coach, Abdulmanap, a coward.
In an interview with ESPN, Nurmagomedov (26-0) brushed off McGregor's comments as those of a "drunk."
"At press conference, he look like drunk guy. It's crazy," Nurmagomedov said. "It's very interesting. How you want to fight when you use lot of drugs and whiskey? How you want to fight 25 minutes? This is not boxing, brother. I'm going to be close all the time. This is not a distance fight with Nate Diaz. This is completely different."
McGregor (21-3) did openly consume a small quantity of alcohol at the news conference, as he promoted his new line of whiskey, Proper No. Twelve. According to UFC president Dana White, the whiskey is an official sponsor of UFC 229. McGregor offered a glass to Nurmagomedov, who calmly told the Dubliner he does not drink.
The two were involved in a now infamous incident in April in Brooklyn, when McGregor and a group of his teammates attacked a UFC bus that Nurmagomedov was on at Barclays Center. Nurmagomedov said he laughed during the attack and was physically prevented from leaving the bus.
The Dagestani has a history of talking to his opponents while he fights them and said he plans to do the same with McGregor -- but will do it slightly different.
"With him, I'm going to talk a little bit different," Nurmagomedov said. "Make him humble, teach him, sometimes slap him, make him tired.
"I'm gonna ask him, 'Where is your bus, now? Where is your other guys? What happen now? Where is everything? Bring everybody here.' We'll see. We'll see. It's going to be interesting. Sometimes, you never know what you're gonna say. Maybe talk with Dana [White]. Crush his hype."
The UFC has a final news conference scheduled with both fighters on Thursday in Las Vegas. Unlike the last one, which took place at Radio City Music Hall, the UFC is inviting fans to attend.
"I can control my emotion," Nurmagomedov said. "He can say whatever he want. When some alcoholic guy is talking about something, people don't care about this. I don't care about what he's talking about. He wants to make me nervous, this is part of his game. Of course, I'm a little bit angry, but you have to control your emotion."