This Saturday night on April 20, Saturday morning for everyone stateside, the UFC will return to Russia for their sophomore event in the country.
In September 2018, the UFC debuted in Russia by touching down in Moscow for the event that was headlined by Mark Hunt and Alexei Oleinik. This time around for UFC Saint Petersburg, the event will also be headlined by heavyweight action as well as the aforementioned ‘Boa Constrictor,’ Oleinik.
As fun of a first card as it was and as this next one looks to be, first and only UFC champion from Russia in the promotion’s history, Khabib Nurmagomedov, doesn’t believe that the events and fighters have been quite getting the respect that they deserve.
“It seems to me that after the event in Moscow there were all the same people, all the same media that were,” Nurmagomedov said in a fan Q&A at an M-1 Apeha event in Saint Petersburg. “UFC fans are watching, but I know that most people don’t even know that they are doing UFC in Russia. 20 April, Magomed Mustafaev will fight with a new guy (Rafael Fiziev), no one even knows about this fight. Or [Alexei] Oleinik vs. [Alistair] Overeem. Why not show or promote it?
“On the first event [Mairbek] Taisumov, [Rustam] Khabilov, Omari Ahkmedov fought. Taisumov has five victories in a row. Khabilov has several wins. But they didn’t even participate in any media events or promotion. [Nikita] Krylov participated, who returned after being fired. Petr Yan participated who was conducting the second fight in the UFC. I think the UFC should have a different policy. UFC need to pay attention to our fighters.”
As for the currently suspended Khabib Nurmagomedov himself, he is eyeing a September 7 return in either the US or Abu Dhabi for a title unification bout with the newly crowned interim champion, Dustin Poirier.
In the meantime, you can catch UFC Saint Petersburg on ESPN+ at 10:00 AM EST for the prelims on Saturday.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/18/2019