Now, I’d have put money of the Mayweather fight being Conor’s ticket to retire from MMA and move on to a nice career in Hollywood action movies but, according to a recent interivew with Dana White, the Irishman is far from done with MMA and is pushing for a tentpole event in Russia.
“You know what Conor told me? He said, ‘I want Khabib in Russia,’” White told MMAjunkie. “Isn’t he fu*king awesome? He’s like, ‘I want Khabib, in Russia.’ He’s awesome. Conor McGregor is a fu*king unicorn. There’s nothing like him. He’s working on boxing Floyd Mayweather and then he’s talking about fighting Khabib in Russia right after.”
Before that could happen, there’s the small matter of Khabib fighting Tony Ferguson, which was due to take place at UFC209 before injury, once again, sidelined Nurmagomedov.
“Those guys got to fight,” said Dana White. “It would have seemed a lot worse if those two guys fought, and they were all sitting around waiting. It didn’t happen. That fight still needs to happen. So this thing could time out perfectly.”
Historically, Russia has proved to be a tough nut to crack for the US promotion and White and the Fertittas had previously spent many years in negotiation with Fedor and his manager, Vadim Finkelstein [M-1 Global] in a bid to make in-roads into a country where MMA fighters are household names.
Russian MMA promotions such as ACB, M-1 Global, and EFN are fairly territorial and reluctant to give up their market share to an external interloper though, but the UFC may finally be making some progress. Just after UFC 205 opened New York for MMA business, White said, “Ari [Emanuel] and I are going to Russia in the next couple of weeks. We’re working on Russia, we’re working on China. We’re making some real big moves here in the next several months.”
Shortly afterwards, the pair met with Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Vitaly Mutko who reportedly said, “A little while ago I’ve met with the UFC owners. They say we do not have a single partner or a title fight in Russia. Our Khabib is there alone, beating everybody. They’ve shown me their presentation. I was shocked when I saw what they were doing—the revenues, how much they get from the TV.”
Money always talks and, if you’re looking to break into the Russian market, then Mutko is a good person to have on side. And, if such an event were to happen, then Conor is the company man you’d want promoting it for you.
As White says, regarding Conor calling for a Russian fight with Khabib, “Those are the kind of things that make that kid a fu*king superstar. I’ve got guys telling me, ‘I don’t want to do sh*t – I don’t want to fight this guy, and I don’t want to do this.’ [Conor says], ‘I want Floyd Mayweather then I want fu*king Khabib in Russia.’ How do you not love him? How do you not love Conor McGregor? Amazing.”