UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has been recounting the moment he felt he had psychologically out-fought the man he bested at UFC 229, Conor McGregor, and interesting that moment came before a blow was landed in anger.
Speaking in an interview with Russian television, the 30-year-old referenced the pre-fight face-off as a watershed moment in the build-up to their much-publicised bout.
"When you get face to face with your opponent, you can tell a lot from looking into the eyes of your opponent. You can look at my face, because the eyes never lie,” he said, referring to the moment which McGregor claims to see fear in the blue-hued face of his belt-holding opponent.
"He can say what he wants, but look where he is looking [in the clip shown below] and then look where my eyes are looking. Here, I understood that I broke him."
"A person can say whatever he wants," Nurmagomedov explained, "but when you stand in front of him - face to face - you can understand what is happening beneath [the surface]."
That trend continued, the wrestler claimed, throughout the pre-fight formalities and right up until the moment they faced off in the cage.
"Everything that happened, the press conference, weigh-ins, the open training... the closer we got to the fight, the more he broke. And when we were inside the cage before the fight.
"I looked him in the eyes … I turned to my brother and said this and he told me not to think that and that I should focus. I told him that it's okay and that he shouldn't worry."
Credit for translation: Sherdog.