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With mini-tournament on ice, Khabib Nurmagomedov turns attention to Georges St-Pierre

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

While the vast majority of MMA fans want to see Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor next, Nurmagomedov’s manager now says they’ve set their sights elsewhere.

“We believe the fight to make is the Georges St-Pierre fight at 155 pounds,” Ali 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 ass back in the line and work his way up.”

After Nurmagomedov won the vacant UFC lightweight title in April, the UFC put together a plan for the top of the 155-pound division that could have been its most lucrative idea to date. The plan was to book an unofficial mini tournament involving four of the biggest draws in the sport: Nurmagomedov, McGregor, St-Pierre and Nate Diaz.

The promotion wanted GSP vs. Diaz on Aug. 4 in Los Angeles, Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor in the fall and the winners facing off by the end of the year.

However, the tournament never got off the ground after the GSP vs. Diaz fight failed to come to fruition for various reasons. Most important, St-Pierre still doesn’t feel healthy enough to return.

“I’m not ready to fight yet,” he told MMAFighting.com. “I need to wait until all the symptoms of my ulcer stop. It’s much better than it was but it’s not 100 percent yet. 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. I need to get over this first for my own health and safety.”

The other side of the unofficial bracket would see Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor for the lightweight title in the fall, most likely in Las Vegas. While that plan is still somewhat in place, though far from finalized, the promotion has to wait until McGregor’s court hearing later this month in Brooklyn, N.Y. before finalizing any plans for the biggest star in MMA.

As for Diaz, sources say he would still like to fight by the end of the summer, though he isn’t actively pursuing a particular fight.

So while the original four-man tournament isn’t happening as was first drawn up, the UFC hasn’t necessarily given up on these four. This story is still very much developing. Could they call an audible and book McGregor vs. Diaz 3 and Nurmagomedov vs. GSP? Perhaps, though, sources say that hasn’t been seriously discussed at this time.

As for Nurmagomedov, he’s not dead set against McGregor. In fact, Abdelaziz says he is open to it for one reason.

“There’s only one reason Khabib wants to fight him: to make him pay for what he did [in Brooklyn]. For Khbaib, it’s not only about money. It’s about disciplining him.

“That being said, UFC should be talking to Georges, not Conor.”