Khabib confirms UFC legend GSP is target for November fight

Khabib confirms UFC legend GSP is target for November fight
UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says he is targeting a November showdown with MMA legend Georges St-Pierre at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, in what would be the Russian’s return fight after suspension.

Khabib’s immediate fighting career is on hold after he was slapped with a nine-month ban and $500,000 fine by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the mass ruckus that followed his win over Irish megastar Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas in October.

READ MORE: Tough justice: Khabib & McGregor punished for UFC 229 brawl – what you need to know (VIDEO)

As rumors abound over potential next fight paths for the undefeated Russian, the man himself has now stated firmly that he wants a match-up with Canadian great St-Pierre on a return to action in New York in November.  

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Russian channel Match TV, Nurmagomedov named the man known as GSP as his desired opponent, despite the 37-year-old Canadian being at the tail-end of his career.

“He has one or two fights left… Georges St-Pierre is the greatest fighter ever to step in the octagon. That’s my opinion.

“I think he can drop to my weight [155lbs]. It would be interesting to fight him.

“My return will be planned for around November, in New York [in Madison Square Garden]. He’s fought there before, and there’s a big [Russian] diaspora."

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The pair have a clear mutual respect, with St-Pierre saying he rates Nurmagomedov, 30, as the best fighter on the planet, calling him "a real good problem to solve."

The Canadian MMA legend revealed earlier this week that his team had been making efforts to book a fight with Khabib through the UFC – but without success.

"It's been a few months that my agents are in communication with the UFC to try to make a fight happen [Khabib Nurmagomedov],” St-Pierre said at an event at the Canadian Museum of History.

"I know Khabib wanted to fight me and I wanted to fight him. It's not about feeling, it's just about respect, and for me as an athlete, what drives me the most - what is the most exciting for an athlete in combat sports - is to be able to beat someone who seems invincible."

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Former undisputed welterweight king St-Pierre ended a four-year hiatus when he returned at UFC 217 in November 2017 to defeat middleweight champion Michael Bisping at Madison Square Garden.

But the Canadian immediately relinquished the middleweight title afterwards, and has admitted that the UFC might be reluctant to sanction a fight against Nurmagomedov, especially with so many potential challengers to the Russian lurking in a lightweight division bristling with talent.   

Indeed, Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, tweeted on Saturday that Tony Ferguson would be "next" for his man.  

St-Pierre said this week: "I'm sure for the UFC from a business standpoint they want to keep [Khabib] there [at the top] and I understand, you know? Instead of taking a risk and putting him against a guy like me.

"I do my best for my interest, and they do what is the best for their interests, and that's where it is right now."

The Canadian great, who is undefeated in over a decade and boasts a career record of 26-2, has previously told RT Sport that dropping down to 155lbs for a potential match-up against Khabib would not be an issue, assuming the pair met at the mark.

"The way my body is made, I could make 155," he told RT Sport in 2017.

"It would be a tough cut, because I normally walk around at 188lbs. I know a lot of guys, and I think Khabib is about the same size as me, or maybe even bigger than me," he said back then.

Should the Canadian and Khabib meet at lightweight in November, St-Pierre would be aiming to become the first man ever to hold titles at three different UFC weights.

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Nurmagomedov also told Match TV about the speculation that he could step between the ropes to meet undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather.

Talk of that potential fight was sparked soon after Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor, but has cooled in recent months.

While Khabib said he would be willing to meet the 50-0 US fighter, “in reality” a fight would be difficult given that Mayweather has ruled out stepping into the octagon, while taking on the US fighter in the ring would be tough, even for 'The Eagle'. 

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The Russian MMA star said that despite his recent woes with the Nevada authorities, he would remain in the UFC and wanted to see out his career in the promotion, foreseeing another two or three years at the top of the game before calling it quits.