Khabib pitches fight plan for fellow Russian legend
UFC legend and Eagle FC owner Khabib Nurmagomedov is already thinking about his next potential opponent for Junior Dos Santos, which could be against Russian heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko.
Dos Santos is set to make his promotion debut against Yorgan de Castro in the main event at Eagle FC 47 in Miami on Friday, after being released by the UFC at the end of a four-fight losing streak last year.
Should Dos Santos gets back to winning ways, however, Nurmagomedov is interested in a cross-promotion bout with Bellator, which could see ex-UFC heavyweight champion Dos Santos meet 40-6 Russian heavyweight legend Emelianenko.
"If Dos Santos wins, I really want to make [the] Dos Santos vs. Fedor fight," Nurmagomedov confessed while promoting Eagle FC 47 at a news conference.
"But he has to focus on Yorgan for next, because this fighter here is [a] tough opponent. I want to talk with my friend, [Bellator president] Scott Coker, because Fedor is under [a] Bellator contract," Nurmagomedov explained.
"I don’t know what they’re gonna do next with him, but definitely we can talk, and we can do something. We can create some story. …
"Why not?" Nurmagomedov asked. "These two guys was [for a] long time the face of MMA. Fedor was the greatest fighter of all time in my opinion, and Dos Santos was heavyweight champion [for] a couple [of] years in UFC. These two guys, I think they deserve [it] and [the] fans deserve [it]. For me, it’s a very interesting matchup, too."
Easily enough for match-maker Nurmagomedov, Dos Santos shares just as much admiration for 45-year-old Emelianenko, who never tested the waters in the UFC when the likes of Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier were at their peaks or emerging.
"I’m a big, big, BIG fan of Fedor, and I really believe – like Khabib said – that he is the greatest,” Dos Santos revealed.
"That was a magical time in the MMA world when he did those amazing fights with ‘Big Nog’," he said, in reference to Dos Santos' compatriot Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
"I wasn’t even fighting at that time, but I was such a big fan of them. For me, because I trained with ‘Big Nog’ as well, it was always kind of a dream, the biggest thing I would like to achieve in my career would be to fight Fedor. So to hear that may be possible now, it’s just amazing," Dos Santos added.
Now the ball seems to be in Coker's court, with Emelianenko having just one bout left on his contract with the promotion tipped to be a farewell retirement fight.
Coker has said that Emelianenko "deserves to have the largest platform and the biggest fight and the biggest event to hold his final fight," and that could be against 38-year-old Dos Santos if Coker is interested in doing business with Eagle FC after plans for a Red Square show were canned owing to Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
Intriguingly, the Bellator chief tweeted a response to Khabib's proposal, writing: "Thanks for the call @TeamKhabib, looking forward to sitting down next week, dinner's on you."
Emelianenko was most recently seen KO'ing American Tim Johnson in the first round of their fight in Moscow at Bellator 269 last October.