Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday to talk with Ariel Helwani about his future in the UFC, the future of MMA in Russia, a proposed UFC 209 interim UFC Lightweight Champsionship bout, and even the possibility of facing Conor McGregor for the UFC Lightweight Title in Moscow.
The new UFC owner, Ari Emanuel of WME-IMG, and UFC President Dana White took a trip to Russia last month to reportedly discuss holding a live UFC event in the country. Even though White didn’t talk to Khabib when he was in Russia, reports were that country officials insisted that Nurmagomedov must compete on the first UFC: Russia card.
Ariel Helwani even said that Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2017 is potentially more popular than Russian MMA heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko was during his Pride days. Fedor was widely regarded as the best heavyweight mixed martial artist in the world at the peak of his career a decade ago.
Even though ‘The Eagle’ admitted a Pay-Per-View event inside his home country was unlikely due to technical and financial difficulties, he did say that a fight with UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor could fill an 80,000 seat stadium in Moscow.
“I think 100 percent we can sell all those tickets,” said Nurmagomedov.
Conor McGregor will reportedly remain sidelined until at least May of 2017, the targeted birth month of his first son, and as of now (Jan 2) there are no clear challengers to his Lightweight Crown.
Khabib planted the seeds for a rivalry with McGregor at UFC 205 in New York, when he demolished Michael Johnson at lightweight and subsequently called out the Irish MMA star in a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan:
Since McGregor is sidelined though, Khabib will now turn his attention to a fight with Tony Ferguson that has been heavily rumored for UFC 209 on March 4 — perhaps for the Interim Lightweight Championship of the world.
Do you think a Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov vs. ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor match for the UFC Lightweight Championship could sell out an 80,000 seat stadium in Moscow, Russia?
— Sound off in the comment section and you can catch Khabib’s full appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani below!