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28 Apr, 2020 12:22

'If he says we're fighting Conor, then we're fighting Conor': Manager says Khabib's dad has last word on '$50m McGregor rematch'

'If he says we're fighting Conor, then we're fighting Conor': Manager says Khabib's dad has last word on '$50m McGregor rematch'

Khabib Nurmagomedov's father Abdulmanap is the "boss" and will ultimately decide whether the UFC lightweight champion faces Conor McGregor in a rematch which could net the unbeaten Russian $50 million, according to his manager.

Khabib famously submitted Irish nemesis McGregor in their Las Vegas grudge match at UFC 229 in October 2018, and has since consistently dismissed any notion of handing McGregor a chance to avenge that defeat.

Assessing the current lightweight landscape, Khabib's manager Ali Abdelaziz said his client would "always be fair" to the number one contenders rather than chasing "money" fights such as a showdown with McGregor - even though he claimed the Russian could bank as much as $50 million for a return meeting with the notorious Irishman.

Ultimately, however, Abdelaziz said matters would be decided by Khabib's father and trainer Abdulmanap, whom he called "the boss." 

“I’m not the boss. [Khabib's] not the boss. His father's the boss, and whatever his father wants, that’s what’s going to happen," Abdelaziz told MMA Junkie.  


"Khabib has no say so. I have no say so. His father has the say.

"If his father wakes up in the morning and says, ‘Boys get it together, we’re fighting Conor,’ we’re fighting Conor.”

Abdulmanap, who was recently hospitalized with suspected pneumonia in Dagestan but is believed to be recovering, said in January that UFC bosses would need to stump up $100 million for his son to face McGregor again.  

Those potential riches are something that Khabib himself has alluded to, claiming another fight with McGregor would smash the record pay-per-view tally of 2.4 million purchases set by the pair's first encounter, and could even be held in front of a record crowd in Russia.

READ MORE: Khabib vs McGregor 2: UFC lightweight champ says Russian rematch makes financial sense, would be record-breaker 

But that prospect seems even more remote at present, not least because of the disruption caused to the UFC calendar by the coronavirus pandemic.

Khabib found himself stranded in lockdown in Russia after leaving the US in March, putting paid to his chances of facing Tony Ferguson on April 18 at an event which in any case was postponed due to pressure on the UFC from executives at ESPN and parent company Disney.

The rescheduled UFC 249 event on May 9 will now see Ferguson - who is on a 12-fight unbeaten run - meet the heavy-hitting Justin Gaethje, with the winner earning a crack at Khabib likely in September or October.

As a devout Muslim, Khabib is currently observing Ramadan and would need several months of training to return to top condition once the holy month is over.

Also on rt.com Return of 'The Eagle': UFC boss Dana White confirms timeframe for Khabib Nurmagomedov's UFC comeback

Khabib has consistently sidelined McGregor from the lightweight title frame, mocking his comeback victory against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in January of this year as a "minor league" bout, and has said the Dubliner would need to win "10 fights in a row" to earn a chance of another shot at the 155lbs belt.

That stance has come in flat contradiction to UFC boss Dana White, who had insisted that McGregor would earn a crack at the winner of the Khabib versus Tony Ferguson fight.

Also on rt.com Khabib camp name terms for McGregor rematch after 'The Notorious' makes spectacular UFC comeback

Speaking on the chances of McGregor running it back with Khabib, Abdelaziz suggested his client would be more likely to face retired Canadian UFC legend Georges St-Pierre than he would McGregor.

“If you say Khabib's number one, Gaethje and Tony are number two and three, [McGregor’s] number four," Abdelaziz said. 

“And number four [McGregor], he’s probably going to sit out maybe a year before he gets a crack at a title.

"But I can see Khabib fighting GSP before he fights Conor. I really truly do.

"I’m not trying to promote a fight… and I know Georges did an interview and said some things. But let’s see what happens,” Abdelaziz said. 

Former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion St-Pierre recently said UFC bosses put the kibosh on the idea of a superfight with Khabib as they were wary that he could snatch the lightweight title only to vacate it immediately aftewards.

Also on rt.com Georges St-Pierre: Khabib fight fell apart because UFC 'didn't want to take the risk' of former champ winning the title