Football and MMA are extremely contrary sports, to the least, but the friendship between these respective athletes has been running for a long time. And one prime example is Cristiano Ronaldo’s comradeship with two of UFC’s biggest names, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
Both Khabib and Conor locked horns UFC lightweight title, with the former retaining his honour after a brutal submission hold. His victory though was largely overshadowed by the post-match brawl when Nurmagomedov jumped out of the octagon to attack McGregor’s teammates. The incident went so monstrous that three of Nurmagomedov’s were arrested, but were later released.
The UFC faithful, on their part, had picked their sides before the game, but for a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, it might have been a massive dilemma. You ask why? Simply because he shares a close friendship with both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
The incident dates back to 2016 when Cristiano Ronaldo was in Las Vegas and was attending the birthday bash of his pop star friend, Jennifer Lopez. Fortunately, McGregor was in the city as he was training for his UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz. The two eventually met up and bonded extremely well. Their friendship went to such extent that Ronaldo asked McGregor to attend J’Lo’s party.
The Irish was left baffled and asked ’are we invited?’, to which Ronaldo replied ‘come’. Talking about the incident, McGregor’s coach recalled, “That’s just cheeky Conor, a throwback to his youth. He just says: ‘Ah sure I’ll come along.’ And Ronaldo goes: Ehh… OK.’
“We’re all there thinking: ‘How can Ronaldo invite us to this gig? Who’s going to be there?’
“Even in the car as we’re driving in: ‘Wait! This a terrible mistake. We’re going to walk in here and be thrown out by some security guard!’
“We go in and J-Lo catches his eye and comes running over like a schoolgirl: ‘Oh! Conor McGregor! Thank you for coming. Let’s dance!’
“She drags him to the dancefloor and they start dancing and I’m like: ‘Oh, here we go, just another crazy story.’
“Ronaldo is there. He comes over, tells me that he reads everything (I write) and follows me on Instagram. I’m thinking: ‘Wait until I tell my dad about this!”
Khabib and Ronaldo, on the other hand, became friends when the former realised the Portugal captain has started following him on Instagram. “Someone told me about that, but I thought it was a joke, recalled the lightweight champion.
“But then I checked and indeed he subscribed.
“Then my buddies were like, let’s message him. He replied straight away.
“Then we started talking and I don’t know why but he asked me if Dana White can match me with Dos Anjos in UFC 201.
“Then I sent him a photo of me beating up Dos Anjos [Nurmagomedov defeated Dos Anjos back in 2014).
“Then Cristiano sent me a thumbs up emoji.”
The two became such good friends that Ronaldo invited his Russian friend to watch him play against Real Sociedad in February this year. The Portuguese scored a hat-trick as the Galacticos got the better of their opponent with ease. Post-game, Ronaldo and Khabib caught up and the former even introduced his son to the fighter. Khabib posted a video on Instagram where Ronaldo was seen wearing that papakha Khabib usually wears during the press conferences.
Ronaldo also gave Khabib a signed number 7 shirt with the fighter’s name written over it.
So now you know how difficult it would have been for the Portuguese to pick a side during the fight.