The champ has become such a big star in his homeland that he believes the UFC will most likely promote his next fight on Russian soil.
“Negotiations are continuing with the UFC. I really want to fight in Russia,” Khabib told Russia’s Channel 1 (via MMA News). “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.
“I really want to fight here, talks are continuing, I’m about 80 percent sure my next fight will be in Russia,” Nurmagomedov concluded.
If the UFC chooses to promote a Khabib Nurmagomedov fight in Russia, they will once again have to navigate international timezones, just as they did when Nurmagomedov defeated Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. That being said, the potential rewards are massive. As Nurmagomedov suggests, he could seemingly fill a stadium in Moscow or St. Petersburg with relative ease — particularly with the right opponent.
At present, there are seemingly three options for Nurmagomedov’s next opponent. The clear frontrunner is long-time contender Tony Ferguson. Ferguson is on a twelve-fight win-streak, and has been scheduled to fight Nurmagomedov four times previously to no avail.
That being said, Nurmagomedov has also been campaigning for a showdown with former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre. A rematch with former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor is also a possibility for Nurmagomedov. In fact, McGregor has previously expressed interest in rematching the champ in Russia.
Do you think we’ll see Khabib Nurmagomedov fight in Russia in the future?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/24/2019.