UFC fans around the world assume that when Conor McGregor ends his long hiatus from the octagon, he will fight current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a devastating matchup among titans to try to reclaim the title belt.
Even Nurmagomedov said after his UFC 223 championship victory over Al Iaquinta that he’d like to square off against McGregor by the end of this year.
But hold your horses, fans. It appears Nurmagomedov has changed his tune.
Khabib’s agent, Ali Abdelaziz, told MMAFighting.com, that his client wants to fight UFC legend Georges St-Pierre next.
“We believe the fight to make is the Georges St-Pierre fight at 155 pounds,” Abdelaziz said. “Khabib wants to fight for legacy and not for a soap opera drama show and we think Conor doesn’t deserve this opportunity. The guy hasn’t fought in almost two years. Why does he deserve to fight for the title? He should get his (expletive) back in the line and work his way up.”
St-Pierre still is recovering from an illness that’s kept him out of the octagon since his last fight at UFC 217 in November. There were talks St-Pierre would fight Nate Diaz at UFC 227 in August, but those rumors were put to rest after the former middleweight champion revealed he’s not healthy enough to fight.
“If I try to return for a training camp for a fight it will amplify and go back to what it was in the beginning,” St-Pierre said. “I need to get over this first for my own health and safety.”
The UFC was planning to have an unofficial mini-tournament with the winners of St-Pierre vs. Diaz and Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor facing off by the end of 2018. However, St-Pierre’s health and McGregor’s arrest prior to UFC 223 threw a wrench into those plans.
It’s unclear whether Nurmagomedov is willing to wait for St-Pierre to get healthy, but his agent did say the only way the Russian will fight McGregor is to get revenge over the Irishman’s chaotic and violent actions toward Nurmagomedov prior to UFC 223 in Brooklyn.
“There’s only one reason Khabib wants to fight him: to make him pay for what he did (in Brooklyn). For Khabib, it’s not only about money. It’s about disciplining him.”
McGregor hasn’t fought in the octagon since winning the lightweight belt at UFC 205 in November 2016 against Eddie Alvarez to become the first two-division champion in UFC history. Since then, he’s been stripped of both the featherweight and lightweight belts and has made no indication of when he’ll return.
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