We know that Khabib Nurmagomedov is a star in his native Russia. Yet in the wake of his UFC 242 victory over Dustin Poirier, which went down last Saturday in Abu Dhabi, it’s becoming clear that he’s an absolute mega star in his homeland.
According to figures tracked by Mediascope and TV Index, and reported by RT Sport and Sport-Express.Ru, Nurmagomedov’s UFC 242 victory over Poirier has already passed 26 million viewers on Russia’s Channel 1 and its subsidiary networks, where it aired for free.
Here’s how RT Sport put this number in perspective: This Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier fight “drew a TV audience of around 24 percent among adult viewers across Russia on Saturday night, according to the data.”
24 percent of Russian adults were watching Khabib Nurmagomedov fight.
With his victory over Dustin Poirier, secured with a third-round rear-naked choke, Khabib Nurmagomedov retained his kingship over the UFC lightweight division and improved to a jaw-dropping 28-0 as a professional mixed martial artist.
From here, all signs point to a fight between Nurmagomedov and his long-time rival Tony Ferguson. The pair have been scheduled to fight four times previously, but the bout has yet to come to fruition.
According to UFC President Dana White, a rematch with Conor McGregor is also possible for Nurmagomedov.
“If Tony Ferguson doesn’t take the fight against Khabib for whatever reason, the Conor McGregor rematch would make a lot of sense,” White said after UFC 242.
Khabib Nurmagomedov has also been campaigning for a fight with former welterweight and middleweight champ Georges St-Pierre.
“Georges St-Pierre is a great guy, a great champion, a great athlete,” Nurmagomedov said at the UFC 242 post-fight press conference. “He’s a very good example for young kids. I know he retired, if he wants to come back, if he feels hungry, if he feels he can improve his legacy with a fight with me and he can make 155, I’m waiting for him.”
Whoever Khabib Nurmagomedov winds up fighting next, it’s sure to be another massive, national event in his native Russia.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/9/2019.