Khabib Nurmagomedov is sticking to his guns about fighting in February or March of next year. “The Eagle” last competed at UFC 242 from Abu Dhabi in September, submitting Dustin Poirier via third-round rear-naked choke.
Now, the mixed martial arts (MMA) community seems to be in agreement that Tony Ferguson is the next deserving candidate for the 155-pound title opportunity. Regardless of who his opponent is, Nurmagomedov noted in a recent interview (H/T RT Sport) that he wants to fight inside a stadium from St. Petersburg early next year.
“It will be in March or April,” Nurmagomedov said. “I said it clearly – I want to fight in a large arena, and the only large indoor arena in Russia is Gazprom Arena (in St. Petersburg). So I want to fight there.”
The arena is known more popularly as the Krestovsky Stadium, a retractable-roof facility that holds up to 80,000 fans. The stadium played host to several matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Nurmagomedov headlining a bout inside the stadium would undoubtedly be a massive affair. Especially if it’s for a rematch with rival Conor McGregor.
Of course, Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor rather handily their last time out, submitting the Irishman in the fourth round of their fight last year. While McGregor has been campaigning for an immediate rematch, many agree that “The Notorious” needs to earn another title shot with a victory inside the Octagon – something he has not had since November of 2016.
“From a fighter’s point of view, (the McGregor rivalry) is a thing of the past,” Nurmagomedov said. “I have nothing to prove. But he has something to prove. We know he does. There’s a lot of businessmen here and I think most of them will tell me to fight him because it’ll bring money. I’d fight all the main contenders first, and I could fight him to benefit my agricultural projects.
“I have to say that Tony Ferguson deserves it more. You have to give him credit. He is on a 12-fight win streak and he deserves it more than Conor. Conor has to come back (and) stop hitting old people. He is a professional fighter. He should come back, win, earn his place and get in line.”
What do you think about Nurmagomedov calling his rivalry with McGregor “a thing of the past?”