Conor McGregor has told Khabib Nurmagomedov "the world knows this war is not over" as he hinted at a future confrontation if his long-standing foe avoids a rematch.
The pair's storied grudge escalated when Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title by forcing McGregor to tap in the fourth round of their October 2018 bout, after which a post-fight melee involving both combatants ensued.
McGregor has made it known he would relish a chance to avenge the loss but Nurmagomedov announced his mixed martial arts retirement last October after extending his perfect professional record to 29-0 by defeating Justin Gaethje.
McGregor returns to the octagon after a 12-month absence to take on Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 this weekend but the Irishman turned his attention to Nurmagomedov when asked if the rivalry had cooled.
"All of those events were in 2018, it's now 2021," McGregor told a press conference. "What I will say as long as we fight again there will be no issue, that's it. If he continues to run then I'm not sure, we'll see what happens."
In bowing out of the sport, Nurmagomedov revealed he had promised his mother he would not continue to fight without his father, coach and mentor Abdulmanap, who died last July after complications arising from contracting coronavirus.
However, UFC president Dana White has held talks with Nurmagomedov and disclosed the Russian could make a comeback if he sees "something spectacular" between McGregor and Poirier in their 155lb bout at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
"It's a tough business, things have gone on in his personal life, I don't wish any harm, it was 2018, a lot of time has passed," McGregor added.
"The world knows this war is not over, the sport needs it to happen, the people need it to happen.
"I'm not going to chase it if he doesn't want it. I'll keep my calm and move on.
"That's what I'm doing, I'm back here at the 155lb division, I'll show the world what's what over time and that's it. It begins on Saturday night against Dustin Poirier."
Australian Associated Press