CONOR MCGREGOR hinted Khabib Nurmagomedov retired to avoid certain defeat in a UFC rematch between the pair.
The undefeated lightweight champion retired in October after beating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
McGregor took time to praise his bitter rival during a Twitter Q&A.
The Irishman tapped out in the fourth round three years ago when battling Nurmagomedov on an explosive night in Las Vegas.
The two have continued to take swipes at each other in interviews and on social media since.
But when asked for his honest opinion on the Dagestani star, Notorious said: “A phenomenal grappler fighter.
“The current best in the sport with it. I've the answer however and they know it.”
Nurmagomedov went on to beat Dustin Poirier and Gaethje after his victory over McGregor before announcing his retirement.
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He hung up his gloves after extending his record to 29-0 as he vowed to keep a promise to his mother that it would be his last fight.
Khabib recently claimed he would have killed McGregor with the submission hold that stopped Notorious in their 2018 clash.
The Russian scored a comprehensive victory over McGregor when they met inside the Octagon at UFC 229.
The fight came after months of a vicious rivalry that reached boiling point when McGregor attacked a bus containing Khabib.
And after the fight a mass brawl broke out when Khabib climbed out of the Octagon with both fighters landing lengthy suspensions.
In an interview with RT, Khabib said if the referee not stopped the fight McGregor could have died as a result of his submission hold.
He said: "You saw what happened. Remove Herb Dean and you yourself will understand whether I would have gone to the end or not.
"A person can die from such a grip. If I were to strangle you a little behind the scenes, you would understand what it is about.
"When a person strangles you and has been doing this for 30 years, this is a cold weapon. If there had been no referee, what could have happened?
"Dean removed my hands, he removed my grip. We understand everything, we understand what could have been."
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