Late last year, news broke that UFC head honchos Dana White and Ari Emmanuel visited Moscow, Russia to begin working on the promotion’s potential debut in the country.
At the moment, of course, this debut remains a hypothetical one, as no date or location has been confirmed. If the UFC does touch down in Russia, however, it’s likely to be a huge event, as the country is a hotbed for MMA fans, and one of the last markets the UFC has not yet tapped.
Were the organization to make a trip to Russia, it would likely stack the event with top Russian talent. They’ve certainly got a deep pool draw from to that end, as their roster includes Russian stars like Rustam Khabilov, Ruslan Magomedov, Ali Bagautinov, Albert Tumenov, Alexey Oleynik, Omari Akhmedov, Alexander Volkov, Rashid Magomedov, Alexander Yakovlev, Shamil Abdurakhimov, and more. Of all the Russian fighters on the UFC roster, however, none possess quite the stardom of undefeated lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, who will fight Tony Ferguson for interim lightweight gold on March 4.
While Nurmagomedov is far and away the most visible Russian fighter on the UFC roster, however, he doesn’t expect to be a part of the organization’s potential debut in the country. His reasoning in this regard comes down to the fact that, because Russia is in a vastly different timezone, the UFC would likely not promote a pay-per-view there, but instead promote a less-stacked Fight Night card. At this stage, Nurmagomedov believes he is too big a name for these lesser cards, and instead belongs on PPV. He explained this feeling during a recent UFC 209 media scrum.
His words (via BloodyElbow.com).
“I don’t think [I would be a part of the card]. Maybe the UFC comes to Russia end of this year, but for PPV show Russia is not very good. For PPV show, maybe Madison Square Garden or T-Mobile Arena. But Russia? Maybe UFC make Fight Night in Russia but why I need fight in Fight Nights? I need to fight on PPV.”
If the UFC does make a trip to Russia, do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov should be on the card? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/23/2017.