Dana White: Conor McGregor wants to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia this year
The UFC president expects to first match Tony Ferguson and Nurmagomedov for interim title
As Conor McGregor prepares for his professional boxing debut on Aug. 26 against Floyd Mayweather in their carnival showdown expected to challenge pay-per-view records, those in the mixed martial arts world are wondering if and when they will see the UFC star back in the Octagon.
According to UFC president Dana White, the company's lightweight champion will return to defend his crown in 2017 regardless of the outcome against Mayweather. White said he plans to first match top contenders Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov in an interim title bout despite multiple failed attempts.
But after that, White said, McGregor (21-3) has a plan.
"You know what Conor told me? He said, 'I want Khabib in Russia,'" White told MMAjunkie.com on Wednesday. "Isn't he f------ awesome? He's like, 'I want Khabib, in Russia.' He's awesome. Conor McGregor is a f------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."
Nurmagomedov (24-0), of course, would have to defeat Ferguson (22-3) first. The Russian native was last set to face Ferguson in March at UFC 209 but pulled out the day before after being hospitalized from a difficult weight cut. A devout Muslim, he has since been inactive while fasting in observance of Ramadan.
In its 24-year history, the UFC has yet to promote a card in Russia. White didn't commit on when or where he would book Ferguson-Nurmagomedov.
"Those guys [have] got to fight," White said. "It would have seemed a lot worse if those two guys fought [at UFC 209], and they were all sitting around waiting. It didn't happen. That fight still needs to happen. So this thing could time out perfectly."
White showed an almost fatherly pride when talking about McGregor's willingness to constantly match himself difficultly.
"Those are the kind of things that make that kid a f------ superstar," White said. "I've got guys telling me, 'I don't want to f------- … I don't want to fight this guy, and I don't want to do this.' [McGregor says], 'I want Floyd Mayweather then I want f------- Khabib in Russia.' How do you not love him? How do you not love Conor McGregor? Amazing."
Despite Nurmagomedov's incredible wrestling ability and relentless passion with which he fights, it would seem he would be a better fit for McGregor stylistically. While Ferguson shares Nurmagomedov's aggression, he is a far more dynamic striker who has the size to give McGregor fits.
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