Khabib Nurmagomedov is in no hurry to return to the city where he had his most highly publicized in-cage triumph and out-of-the-cage incident.
The UFC lightweight champion is currently without a fight as a matchup with No. 1 contender Tony Ferguson looms and while the wheels are in motion according to Nurmagomedov, there are a few sticking points that need to be addressed.
Nurmagomedov was in attendance at a fan Q&A in Moscow ahead of this weekend’s UFC event and he confirmed that he is actively negotiating his next bout, but a fight in Las Vegas will only occur if he receives an apology from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the penalty levied against him in the wake of the UFC 229 melee.
It was at T-Mobile Arena in October of last year that Nurmagomedov settled the score with rival Conor McGregor, submitting “The Notorious” in the fourth round. Afterwards, Nurmagomedov leaped over the Octagon fence to attack McGregor’s cornerman Dillon Danis, while several of Nurmagomedov’s teammates weree involved in a physical altercation with McGregor inside the cage.
Nurmagomedov would eventually be fined $500,000 for his involvement in the brawl and receive a nine-month suspension from the NSAC. In January, Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Adbelaziz said that the fighter would no longer compete in Vegas due to the commission’s ruling.
Now, he may be open to a return as long as the commission makes things right in his eyes.
“We’re in talks now [for the Ferguson fight],” Khabib said, according to a translation from RT Sport News. “They suggested having it in Vegas in March, but they have to issue me an official apology for fining me for the incident on Oct. 6, 2018.”
Nurmagomedov has competed once since UFC 229, successfully defending his title against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242, which took place in Abu Dhabi this past September. He is currently 28-0 as a professional and a matchup with Ferguson would pair him up against an opponent who has won 12 straight fights. The two have been booked to fight on multiple occasions over the past few years, only for both men to be afflicted by various maladies that forced their withdrawal.
UFC president Dana White has said that Ferguson is next in line, though should the fight fail to materialize again, he is interested in booking a rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor and even raised the possibility of an oft-discussed superfight with retired legend Georges St-Pierre.
Whoever is next for Nurmagomedov, he’s eyeing a possible return to New York—the state where he won a vacant UFC lightweight championship—should Las Vegas not accede to his demands.
“If they apologize, I’ll fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “If not, we’ll pick another venue. I’ll fight in April in New York. I’ll be ready in April, March if Vegas apologizes or gives me back my money.
“Those are my conditions. We’re in talks now.”