Khabib vs McGregor 2: UFC lightweight champ says Russian rematch makes financial sense, would be record-breaker
UFC lightweight ruler Khabib Nurmagomedov has spoken more about the chances of facing Conor McGregor in a rematch on home soil in Russia.
Speculation of a re-run of the pair’s blockbuster Las Vegas showdown has been rife in recent days, after Nurmagomedov’s father and trainer Abdulmanap said that the Irish star was welcome to try and avenge his 2018 defeat if he wishes to travel to Moscow.
McGregor’s trainer John Kavanagh added intrigue to the mix when he responded by tweeting he would “love to visit” the Russian capital.Also on rt.com 'I'd love to visit Moscow': McGregor coach John Kavanagh up for Khabib rematch in Russian capital
And speaking on Saturday at the Synergy Global Forum in St. Petersburg, Khabib himself left the door wide open for a rematch in his homeland – if only for the sake of the riches it would bring to help fund his various projects.
“From a fighting point of view, I’ve passed that stage [with McGregor], I don’t need to prove anything,” the unbeaten Dagestani fighter told the audience at Gazprom Arena.
“A lot of businessmen here would tell me that I need to fight with him as it would be lucrative… I would do it for the sake of expanding my agricultural projects, I could fight him.”
The first fight between the pair broke the UFC pay-per-view record, racking up a whopping 2.4 million purchases.
And while Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov named the Russian capital as a potential venue for a rematch, his son indicated he would prefer the bout to take place at the giant Gazprom Arena, which is home to local football club Zenit St. Petersburg and has a retractable roof.
“I think I could fight [McGregor] at Gazprom Arena, 70,000 people, we would fill it, I would earn a lot of money.
“It has to be a closed arena... The world record for MMA is 56,000 fans in Australia, for Holly Holm versus Ronda Rousey. I think we could easily beat that record at Zenit [Gazprom] Arena,” Khabib said.
“Around a week ago I had a meeting with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, [CEO] Kirill Dmitriev, we discussed where we could hold my next fight in Russia, because negotiations are already going on with the UFC about me fighting in Russia…
“I said straight away that Luzhniki [in Moscow] isn’t a closed arena, it would be difficult to host it there. I remembered the Zenit Arena… I think we could fill this arena.”Also on rt.com Coming home: Khabib Nurmagomedov says homecoming title fight in Russia is 'highly possible'
Having defended his title against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi in September, Nurmagomedov is widely believed to be aiming for a return in March or April of next year, with Tony Ferguson seen as the most likely opponent.
The Russian fighter said he sees Ferguson as a more deserving next opponent than McGregor – not least given the charges the Irishman is facing over an alleged assault on an elderly man in a Dublin pub earlier this year.
“Tony Ferguson deserves it more. We have to give people what they’ve earned, Ferguson is on a 12-fight win streak, he’s earned it more. Conor needs to stop beating elderly people,” Nurmagomedov said.
“Let [McGregor] return and wait in line. But from a [business] development point of view, of course I could fight [McGregor],” he added.Also on rt.com Conor McGregor charged with pub assault, to appear in Dublin court next week
When asked whether McGregor’s continued barbs bothered him, the man nicknamed 'The Eagle' turned to wise words he said were once shared with him.
“One intelligent person once told me, ‘sometimes a crow can sit on an eagle and start pecking at his head. An eagle can’t put up with it, and then the eagle just flies and flies so high, where the crow can’t breathe anymore.’ So I try not to pay attention to it.
“At the moment, I’m not ready to shake McGregor’s hand. Everyone makes mistakes, there’s no ideal person, we all have minuses, but when someone keeps making them, it means it’s in his nature.
“Not long ago he hit a 70-year-old man, that says something about him as a person… But if he says sorry, then you always need to accept apologies.”Also on rt.com Moscow calling: Here's why Khabib vs McGregor 2 should happen in Russia (VIDEO)