Controversy over Conor McGregor's photo with Russian gymnast

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Karolina Sevastyanova, pictured here with Conor McGregor.
Karolina Sevastyanova posed for a photo with Conor McGregor. Image: Instagram

Fans of Khabib Nurmagomedov have criticised Russian gymnast Karolina Sevastyanova after she posted a photo with Conor McGregor on social media.

UFC fans will be well-versed in the heated rivalry between Khabib and McGregor, with the pair trading nasty verbal barbs for years.

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Khabib beat McGregor at UFC 229 in 2018, a bout most remembered for the ugly scenes after the bell when Khabib jumped out of the cage and attacked McGregor’s crew, followed by Khabib’s crew jumping into the cage and doing the same to McGregor.

So fans of the Russian fighter were less than impressed to see Sevastyanova posing for a happy snap with McGregor - her compatriot’s despised rival.

Sevastyanova’s photo was flooded with comments on Instagram, many from unhappy Russian fans.

“I thought this was photoshopped,” one wrote, seemingly in disbelief.

Another wrote: “Tell him Khabib’s better.”

Many others made mention of McGregor’s hatred of Khabib and whether or not Sevastyanova was aware.

Sevastyanova won gold in rhythmic gymnastics at the London Olympics in 2012.

She was also the all-round champion at the 2012 European Games and 2010 Youth Olympics.

However the 25-year-old has since retired from the sport.

Karolina Sevastyanova, pictured here at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Karolina Sevastyanova (second from right) at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Conor McGregor puts rivalry aside after tragedy

McGregor has never been afraid to sledge Khabib - even about things like his religion or father’s recent coma.

However he put the hatred aside when Khabib’s father Abdulmanap died earlier this month.

Khabib’s father and former trainer died at 57 after contracting coronavirus, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced.

“I've received sad news, friends, that Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov has left this world,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram messenger, saying he was expressing the condolences of the “whole Chechen people.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, pictured here after their fight at UFC 229.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor at UFC 229. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The fighter's father was first hospitalised in April in his native North Caucasus region of Dagestan and was later transferred to a Moscow clinic.

In May Khabib urged people in Dagestan, one of the regions hardest hit by the pandemic, to be “disciplined” and “listen to our doctors.”

The devastating news sparked an outpouring of tributes around the UFC world - and McGregor was among those to send condolences.

“The loss of a father, a coach, and a dedicated supporter of the sport. Condolences and rest in peace Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov,” the Irishman tweeted.

McGregor’s classy response came just days after a nasty claim that Abdulmanap’s virus battle was a “cover up” so Khabib wouldn’t have to get back into the Octagon.

“A cover up to hide the lack of activity and the pulling out of fights and running away. Good luck but remember - Allah sees all,” McGregor wrote on social media in response to a sledge from Khabib’s cousin Abubakar.

with agencies