Like an epic hero Khabib stands at the fork of three roads. The first leads back to the UFC octagon. The second promises the development of its own fighting league Eagle FC. The third could make him the chairman of the MMA Olympic movement.
The first way. Return to the UFC
Perhaps this is the most obvious way.
After defeating Justin Gage Khabib Nurmagomedov publicly announced that he was leaving the sport because of a promise to his mother. It seemed that the point had been set, because the “Eagle” has established itself as a man of his word.
But there is a presentiment that the moral and ethical side of the question of Khabib’s return to the octagon can be dealt with. In the end, mom can and will allow her son to return. For at least one fight. It’s just a movie story.
The more difficult aspect is motivation. The record of 30-0 itself (at the moment Nurmagomedov has 29 victories in 29 battles fought) is unlikely to be the main motivating factor. “Eagle” will want to win the jubilee victory in battle with no one. But who will be the rival?
As Nurmagomedov himself noted at a large press conference held in December in Moscow, the first three numbers of the UFC lightweight rating – Conor McGregor, Justin Gage and Dustin Poirier – he is depressed.
Tony Ferguson, Khabib’s fight with which he broke down five (!) times (the last – in April of this year), after two defeats is hardly interesting to Nurmagomedov.
there is Charles Oliveira – Brazilian with excellent wrestling on the ground. It was he who defeated Ferguson at the tournament on December 12. But who even knows Oliveira outside of Brazil? With all due respect – it is unlikely that he will become a serious irritant for the “Eagle”.
Rather believe in Nurmagomedov’s revenge with McGregor. This battle can definitely be promoted to the whole world. And Conor will be one hundred percent happy to get involved in the dirty thrash-current games that he played before their first fight. But will Khabib want to play by the Irishman’s rules? Two years ago, Nurmagomedov was over-motivated to silence McGregor. Now Khabib looks morally devastated, and it is hardly possible to imagine him quarreling with “Notorius” at a press conference or getting involved in a brawl with an Irishman in a duel of views.
Khabib just outgrew it
There is also a former UFC champion in the middle and welterweight divisions Georges Saint-Pierre… The legendary Canadian was periodically compared to Khabib, and the virtual fight of two wrestling masters haunted many UFC fans. But since this fight did not take place while Habib and Saint-Pierre were still active fighters, now it is even more difficult to believe in the possibility of organizing a fight between two legends. Although Nurmagomedov’s longtime American Kickboxing Academy partner, former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier said that Khabib could return precisely for the sake of a duel with Saint-Pierre.
“This fight may interest Nurmagomedov. He wants to make history, and the victory over Saint-Pierre will help in this. There is little that makes his resume even more impressive. But the fight with Georges will definitely help. “
Cormier, who is now a commentator and analyst for the UFC, hardly said it just like that.
One thing can be stated: the longer Khabib does not return, the better for him and for the UFC. Passions are whipping up, interest is growing, and every day the virtual cost of subscribing to the first battle of Nurmagomedov after his return becomes more and more expensive.
And, by the way, do not think that a simple one alienates the “Eagle” from the octagon. Khabib did not often fight in the past. In the period from 2017 to 2020, Nurmagomedov fought no more than one fight a year. And from April 19, 2014 to April 2016, he did not enter the octagon for exactly two years!
If necessary, physically Khabib will definitely be ready to return.
The question is, will the UFC be able to interest its best fighter, regardless of weight class?
The second way. Struggle to include MMA in the Olympic family
The story began beautifully. In early December, at a press conference in Moscow, Khabib Nurmagomedov said that he had long supported the inclusion of MMA in the program of the Olympic Games and would lobby for this idea at a meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach (the meeting has not yet taken place – ed.).
“I think, if not in Paris (at the 2024 Olympics – ed.) then in Los Angeles (at the 2028 Olympics – ed.) we have great chances to promote MMA, “Nurmagomedov said at a meeting with journalists on December 2.
But in the wake of the latest decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the disqualification of Russian athletes until 2022, Khabib’s Olympic enthusiasm may dry up. Alone, Nurmagomedov will not be able to engage in a PR campaign to include MMA in the Summer Games program. Khabib will need the help of high-ranking Russian officials. But do they now have a desire to lobby for a new sport, when Russia needs to be saved from WADA and others like them its athletics, biathlon and much more?
And you shouldn’t think that numerous competitors of MMA (we are talking about regular participants in the Olympics in boxing, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, judo and taekwondo) will want to see mixed competitors at the Games. For example, Muaythai (Thai boxing), behind which is by no means a poor kingdom of Thailand, has been trying in vain for more than ten years to enter the Olympic family. But something gets in the way all the time.
There are enough single combats at the Olympics and among many officials there is an opinion that there is definitely nothing to do with MMA.
Of course, if suddenly for Khabib Nurmagomedov, the issue of including MMA becomes a matter of honor, for example, to win the UFC champion belt or beat McGregor.
Then you can see the fierce fight “Eagle” with Olympic officials.
The third way. Eagle FC League Promotion
But the development of his own promotion, which Khabib has owned since December of this year, seems to be a more realistic alternative to resume his career. Nurmagomedov has everything to successfully promote EFC. Crazy popularity and serious influence in the world of MMA. Ambition and knowledge of the realities of this sport.
Khabib has already announced that he wants to enter the international market and that EFC will open 2021 with a tournament in Abu Dhabi. And Nurmagomedov plans to hold a tournament in the United States.
In theory, any kind of anti-Russian sanctions can hinder the international development of the EFC (let’s not forget that recently the ACA promotion was subjected to such). But there is a feeling that no one will impose sanctions against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Even if about the scandalous story with the shoe print on the face Macron somehow quickly forgot.
It is interesting to see how Khabib Nurmagomedov will interact with other Russian promotions, because sooner or later (most likely early) EFC will become a competitor for ASA or AMC Fight Nights.
So, I have already spoken about my possible negotiations with EFC Magomed Ismailov… Khabib does not hide the fact that the project should become commercially successful
“There is no market without competition. And if we want to stay in the game, we have to compete with others, ”Khabib said at a press conference before the EFC tournament in Nizhny Novgorod.
But EFC will definitely not be able to compete with American (UFC, Bellator) or Asian (One Championship) MMA giants in the near future, but it is quite possible to turn the hierarchy of mixed martial arts in Russia.