First man to beat McGregor recounts win: Conor ‘cried’ and I got 500 euros

Ahead of UFC 194, it would appear as though Conor McGregor was living out his destiny. Seven years ago, however, his future was anything…

By: Karim Zidan | 8 years ago
First man to beat McGregor recounts win: Conor ‘cried’ and I got 500 euros
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Ahead of UFC 194, it would appear as though Conor McGregor was living out his destiny. Seven years ago, however, his future was anything but guaranteed.

Back in 2008, the Irishman had accumulated a 2-0 professional record and was set to add to his swelling resume at Cage of Truth 3 in Dublin. His opponent, Russia’s Artemij Sitenkov, was supposed to be an unsuspecting wrestler far too small for the match-up he was placed in.

However, 69 seconds after the bell sounded for the opening round, Sitenkov was announced as the victor, while McGregor lay on the canvas wincing in pain.

It was McGregor’s first of two submission losses in his career to date, and it came against an opponent who no one assumed stood a chance.

“In those days, even if I won, I was supposed to pretend that it was by accident,” Sitenkov told‘s Rigan Rahmatulin. “Otherwise, I would be simply not be invited back to fight in the future. I was good at it. At the time, the Irish didn’t suspect that I was a good fighter, and John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, just held his tournaments under the name Cage of Truth. I can even show you a trophy for defeating Conor.”

Artemiy began to describe the bowl he was awarded for his win against McGregor that night in Dublin.

“It’s a metal one but sounds shitty, which means it was made from the cheapest material. This wreath is from plastic and glued right here and with these twigs and tablet the same story. It’s just cheap Chinese garbage (laughs). For beating McGregor, I got this bowl and 500 euros.”

According to the Russian, he was handpicked by McGregor’s longtime coach John Kavanagh because he didn’t appear like much of a threat.

“John thought that McGregor could defeat me. According to his words, I was a fighter who already had experience in overseas performances, was in the rankings and they didn’t have to pay me much. I paid for a ticket from my pocket and flew to Ireland to fight. ”

Sitenkov explained that given their significant weight differential, he knew he had to attempt something unorthodox to secure the win against a far larger boxer. So once the fight began, he grabbed ahold of McGregor, dragged him to the canvas, and finished him with a kneebar.

“[McGregor] cried after the fight. Kavanagh came to him and consoled him.”

While much has changed over the past seven years, Sitenkov is regularly questioned about his victory against the UFC interim champion, whether by eager pundits or by his own martial arts students.

McGregor was not the only Irishman that Sitenkov defeated by kneebar, either. He needed all of 55 seconds to dispatch UFC fighter Neil Seery in 2012. However, he has since gone 1-7 in his last eight fights and does not see himself facing McGregor in a rematch.

” Yes, I defeated McGregor. So what? He was just a teenager. This fight is impossible now because there are two weight categories between us. He has his own destiny and I have mine. He wins in UFC and I’m happy for it.”

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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