Nurmagomedov, 26-0, claimed UFC lightweight championship by scoring a unanimous decision victory over late replacement Al Iaquinta in the main event of UFC 223 earlier this month and with a raft of fighters lining up to challenge the ‘The Eagle,’ he knows exactly who he wants for his first title defense.
The pair looks to be on a collision course for what could be one of the biggest fights in MMA history as Irishman prepares to end a long hiatus from the sport.
As the former interim champion Tony Ferguson recovering from gnarly knee injury and cash cow Conor McGregor facing legal issues following his UFC 223 rampage in Brooklyn, with that dilemma Khabib may not get the fight he’s ultimately eyeing.
However, the Dagestani fighter revealed the wheels for a fight with Mcgregor’s first UFC belt holder are already in motion.
“We’re talking, but if it takes too long, I don’t want to do that,” Nurmagomedov said during a Q&A event earlier this week in Russia (h/t MMANytt). “If he wants to fight this year, then we can fight. Otherwise, I don’t know. We won’t wait long. I want to fight Conor and if he can fight, I will fight him.”
Nurmagomedov said a fight with Irishman could be delayed due to the Mcgregor’s impending court case.
Khabib did discuss other potential opponents, should a showdown with McGregor fail to come to fruition, ‘The Eagle’ eyeing to lock horns with Ferguson, who he’s been slated a staggering four times, but he is currently rehabilitation a knee injury. He also shows disinterest in former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, declaring that he needs to earn a spot to fight with me.
“There is Tony Ferguson, but I don’t think he is going to fight soon,” Nurmagomedov said. “Then there is Alvarez, He wants to fight, but there’s something missing. He may or may not know this, but I’ll tell him to go take a hike.”
However, there is another lightweight contender Dustin Poirier who scores a fourth-round TKO victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX, called out Khabib, added ‘The Eagle’s’ team contacted him for a potential title fight.
“I think it’s pretty good chances, Tony’s timeline is nine months and we got to see if Conor comes back, maybe he doesn’t,” Poirier said on The MMA Hour this week. “Khabib’s manager reached out to me and told me I’m the next guy in line and they want to fight me.”
Khabib’s coach Javier Mendez told Express Sport that cash cow Conor Mcgregor would have a trilogy with Nate Diaz first, before locking horns with Kahbib.
“The next big one that’s going to happen before that, in my opinion, and I believe the logical step for Conor would be to fight Nate Diaz.”
Mcgregor hasn’t fought since his historic UFC 205 victory over Eddie Alvarez, claimed a UFC lightweight title, which made him the first fighter in the UFC’s history to hold two titles simultaneously.