UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is crossing over from fighter to promoter after purchasing his own MMA organization.
This week, the undefeated Russian unveiled Eagle Fighting Championships – rebranded after his purchase of Gorilla Fighting Championship – as he seeks to create a developmental league that will hopefully discover a slew of future contenders. While Nurmagomedov previously has dabbled in promotion, he will now serve as the owner and the face of the organization with his name attached to the brand.
After the ink dried on the deal, Nurmagomedov wasted no time reaching out to UFC President Dana White in order to speak to him about a new kind of working relationship between his organization and the biggest MMA promotion on the planet.
“I had this offer to Dana White,” Nurmagomedov explained during a press conference held in Russia this week (translation courtesy of RT Sport). “I wanted to make a contract with UFC Fight Pass, to broadcast EFC fights there, kind of like their contract with M-1 but a bit different.”
According to Nurmagomedov, he wants to grow EFC with an impressive roster of talented fighters, but he’s not seeking to compete with the UFC. Instead, he wants to work side-by-side to help graduate EFC’s fighters to eventually join the UFC roster.
“I wanted to discuss the number of title defenses an EFC fighter needs to get into the UFC,” Nurmagomedov said. “When we sign fighters, we would like the organization to follow them into the UFC. For example, a guy signs for six fights. If he wins and defends his title a few times, we’ll get him a UFC contract, then after he signs we’ll handle his affairs.
“It’s no secret everyone wants to get into the UFC. Other promotions want their fighters to stay. I don’t want that. I want EFC to be a launchpad into the world stage.”
As much as Nurmagomedov wants EFC to succeed, he understands that it’s nearly impossible to compete with an organization as massive as the UFC, especially considering the market share they already control on a worldwide scale.
Rather than trying to succeed in an unwinnable war, the 32-year-old veteran prefers to help up and coming athletes realize their own dreams by eventually fighting in the UFC much like he did with his career.
“We need at least 10 years to be better than UFC, so we don’t have those goals,” Nurmagomedov said. “A 23-year-old fighter can have six, seven fights, win the title and defend it, then sign with the UFC in just two years.
“That’s a more realistic short-term goal than looking ahead 10 to 12 years just for a chance to become the best promotion in the world. But we do aim to become one of the best in the world.”
Check out the full video courtesy of RT Sport.