Khabib Nurmagomedov has long spoken of headlining a UFC show in his native Russia and that plan could come to fruition soon.
In a recent interview with Channel 1, “The Eagle” stated that the wheels are in motion for his next lightweight championship defense to possibly be a home date. Nurmagomedov recently defeated Dustin Poirier via third-round submission at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi in front of a crowd heavily in his favor, but he still yearns to bring a pay-per-view to his native country.
Nurmagomedov has not fought in Russia since October 2011, his last bout before signing with the UFC where he has won 12 consecutive bouts to improve his unblemished pro record to 28-0. However, as eager as he is to make this dream event happen, he acknowledged that there are complications to actually booking it.
“Negotiations are continuing with the UFC. I really want to fight in Russia,” Nurmagomedov said, according to a translation by RT Sport. “In St. Petersburg there’s a closed arena [Gazprom Arena]. In Moscow, Luzhniki Stadium is open… I was there at the [football] World Cup final when it rained, if that kind of rain happened it would ruin an [MMA] event. In St. Petersburg the stadium seats 75,000 people, I could fight there. In a small arena it wouldn’t work.”
Though Nurmagomedov’s next opponent has not been officially set, he and UFC president Dana White have both stated that No. 1 contender Tony Ferguson is the most likely candidate for the 31-year-old’s third title defense. Other options include fan favorite Justin Gaethje, an unquestionably lucrative rematch with Conor McGregor, or an oft-discussed fantasy matchup with retired welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre.
Whoever he fights, Nurmagomedov is doing everything in his power to make sure that his adversary makes the long flight over to his neck of the woods.
“I really want to fight here, talks are continuing, I’m about 80 percent sure my next fight will be in Russia,” Nurmagomedov said.
(h/t Bloody Elbow)
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