KHABIB LOOKING AT NON-CONOR OPTIONS
Possibly seeing the writing on the wall, Khabib Nurmagomedov is now open to fights other than Conor McGregor with one catch – an Interim Title needs to be on the line.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour,” Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz said that Nurmagomedov doesn’t care whom he fights next, as long as it’s a title fight. He also told Helwani that his client’s contract is structured such that he is paid much more for championship fights. “Khabib, financially, is very stable. And let’s not forget, Khabib’s purse his last fight, because he didn’t fight for in title fight, he lost 80-percent of his purse, because his contract is very, very different. When he didn’t fight Conor, that made his purse go down, he lost 80 percent. He only got paid 20 percent.”
Abdelaziz also suspects that McGregor and his team are trying to avoid a fight with Nurmagomedov and that they have also been avoiding Frankie Edgar for some time.
“Conor’s team, they’re very smart,” he said. “They’re going to do everything in their power not to fight Khabib, the same thing they did with Frankie (Edgar). They dodged, dodged, dodged, and they chose opponents they could beat, but they didn’t choose Frankie, and the same thing could happen with Khabib. But now it’s different, because Khabib has a 100 million Russians behind him.”
With McGregor still reigning over the Featherweight Division and with him taking some time off in anticipation of his girlfriend giving birth, an interim title in the 155 pound division is a very real possibility and Khabib Nurmagomedov should be front of the line when that match is made.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I think that Khabib is next in line for McGregor at 155 from a pure rankings and merit perspective. If an interim title is created in McGregor’s absence, a fight between Khabib and Tony Ferguson seems like a no brainer and would be a great fight. The only problem with an interim title at 155 is that it handcuffs the UFC as to McGregor’s next fight in the division. McGregor would be forced to defend against whomever the interim champion is, so if UFC wants to do McGregor-Diaz 3 next, they shouldn’t create an interim title at 155.
I don’t buy that McGregor is being protected with matchmaking at this point or that he had been dodging Frankie Edgar. With Edgar, the timing just never worked where the fight made sense to make. Khabib may have to wait a while to get his shot at McGregor so he should keep fighting in the meantime and keep talking about McGregor whenever he has a chance to keep his name in the conversation.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Speaking of Khabib, he hasn’t stopped trash talking Conor McGregor despite looking at other options now. He explicitly told TMZ this week what he’d like to do with McGregor. “I want to take him down, speak with him, slap him, make him nervous … like, ‘Hey, get up! Let’s go! Where is your boxing?’ … play with him and make him give up. This is what I want. But I don’t want to finish him 1st round, 2nd round, 3rd round … I want to fight with him for 25 minutes like 5 rounds and I want to make him look very bad. And finish his hype.” Check out the video of what he said HERE.
-Junior dos Santos has been petitioning for a fight with Stipe Miocic at UFC 209 in February. Dos Santos holds a win over Miocic by decision in 2014.
Derek Brunson vs. Roane Caneiro
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST 11/23: Did she or didn’t she land a kick? Does it matter? Cortney responds to criticism (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)