Khabib Nurmagomedov purposefully toyed with Conor McGregor before finishing him in the fourth round of their UFC 229 clash two years ago, his coach Javier Mendez claims.
Since then, Khabib has also made Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje submit, but finished each opponent in the third and second round, respectively.
But Mendez has revealed that the time Khabib takes to finish his opponents is purposeful, asserting that his fighter wanted to "punish" McGregor when they fought, before ultimately deciding to do the opposite with Gaethje.
"I gather Khabib likes Justin a lot because he finished him sooner than he would've with most people," Mendez told The Sun.
"He likes to punish people a bit, ground and pound them.
"But Justin's parents were there and he knew Justin wouldn't tap and he didn't want to break his arm in front of his parents.
Undefeated. Undisputed. Unmatched.
:trophy: @TeamKhabib moves to No. 1 on the Pound-For-Pound rankings.
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- UFC (@ufc) October 27, 2020
"Khabib purposely let Conor go longer, he purposely stood with him, he wanted to punish him.
"Just because Conor went four rounds it doesn't mean Khabib had a tougher time trying to finish him - Khabib wanted to punish Conor, he didn't want to do that with Justin."
Khabib retired following his UFC 254 win over Gaethje on Saturday, admitting that he'd promised his mother to do so after the fight.
With the UFC lightweight belt now vacant, it's possible that McGregor and Poirier will duel for it in January.
Gaethje is also still in the mix, and could take on contender Tony Ferguson next.
Mendez added that Khabib's retirement from MMA was down to emotions, following the death of his father earlier this year.
"I know he said what he said, but he was extremely emotional and time will tell if it will stick or not," he added.
"Honestly, I don't know and I'm not going to talk to him about it either, not my job. My job is to love him and coach him when he wants to fight."
Image credit: PA Images
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