Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov holds a lot of power as one of the sport’s biggest starts in 2019 and he’s hoping to leverage that to ensure that his next title fight takes place in Russia.
“Negotiations are continuing with the UFC,” Nurmagomedov told Russia’s Channel 1. “I really want to fight in Russia.
“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.”
It’s rare that a fighter gets to pick and choose where he’ll compete, and for a star as big as Nurmagomedov it’s usually a major U.S. destination like Las Vegas or New York that ends up winning out, but ‘The Eagle’ is confident he can get it done.
“I really want to fight here, talks are continuing, I’m about 80 percent sure my next fight will be in Russia.”
It’s worth noting however that even at the height of his fame even Conor McGregor has struggled to get the UFC to agree to host one of his blockbuster pay-per-view events in his native Ireland.
That being said, Russia is a potentially huge market for the UFC and with Nurmagomedov being a national hero it makes anything possible at this stage.