(Video) Dana White: Conor McGregor wants Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia after Floyd Mayweather
LAS VEGAS – The UFC lightweight title is on hold while Conor McGregor prepares for his boxing mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather. However, it appears “The Notorious” has some grand plans for his return to MMA.
According to UFC President Dana White, who believes McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) will return to the UFC to defend his title regardless of the Mayweather outcome, the previously scheduled interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will be booked again despite three failed attempts.
McGregor, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, apparently believes No. 2-ranked Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) would come out of that fight victorious and meet him in a unification bout in his return to the octagon.
The twist, though, is that the Irishman wants it to happen in Russia.
“You know what Conor told me? He said, ‘I want Khabib in Russia,\’” White told MMAjunkie on Wednesday at UFC headquarters. “Isn’t he (expletive) awesome? He’s like, ‘I want Khabib, in Russia.’ He’s awesome. Conor McGregor is a (expletive) unicorn. There’s nothing like him. He’s working on boxing Floyd Mayweather and then he’s talking about fighting Khabib in Russia right after.”
The UFC has never held an event in Russia during its nearly 24-year history. The region has become one of the great hotbeds for talent in recent years, though, with Dagestan’s Nurmagomedov being arguably the best.
“The Eagle” is riding the longest MMA winning streak of any active UFC fighter at 24 fights, but his recent career has included much adversity. Nurmagomedov was scheduled to fight Ferguson for the interim 155-pound belt at UFC 209 in March. However, the bout fell apart on weigh-in day when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized following a bad weight cut.
Although McGregor has called Nurmagomedov a “pullout merchant” who has more to prove before a title shot, he may change his tune should Nurmagomedov get past Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) in their fight.
White didn’t announce when or where Nurmagomedov-Ferguson would take place, just that it needs to happen.
“Those guys (have) got to fight,” White said. “It would have seemed a lot worse if those two guys fought (at UFC 209), and they were all sitting around waiting. It didn’t happen. That fight still needs to happen. So this thing could time out perfectly.”
Whether an event in Russia is realistic for within the timeframe McGregor and Nurmagomedov could clash remains to be seen, but White said the willingness of the champion to do something so bold is just one reason McGregor has achieved unmatched notoriety for an MMA fighter.
“Those are the kind of things that make that kid a (expletive) superstar,” White said. “I’ve got guys telling me, ‘I don’t want to (expletive) – I don’t want to fight this guy, and I don’t want to do this.’ (Conor says), ‘I want Floyd Mayweather then I want (expletive) Khabib in Russia.’ How do you not love him? How do you not love Conor McGregor? Amazing.”
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