The Ultimate Fighting Championship is always looking to break new international ground, and the Las Vegas-based promotion has its sights set on one spot in particular for 2017.
“We’re focused very heavily on Russia right now. We’re working on Russia,” White told Fox 5 in New York. “First of all, there’s tons of talent coming out of Russia and a lot of fans. There’s a fighter named Khabib [Nurmagomedov] who’s from Russia and he’s insanely popular.”
Nurmagomedov, of course, has established himself as one of the best talents in the UFC’s lightweight division. “The Eagle” is 24-0 as a professional and owns Octagon triumphs over the likes of Michael Johnson, Rafael dos Anjos, Thiago Tavares and Gleison Tibau. While Nurmagomedov and fellow top contender Tony Ferguson have bickered on social media regarding a proposed bout, White hinted that the Dagestani might already be at the front of the line at 155 pounds.
“The next fight could be Conor vs. Khabib,” White said.
Following a lopsided unanimous verdict over Johnson at UFC 205, Nurmagomedov called out McGregor, who would capture lightweight gold with a second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez later that evening. There have also been rumors that an interim 155-pound title fight between Nurmagomedov and Jose Aldo was floated by the UFC but ultimately denied by Nurmagomedov.
At any rate, it could be a while before McGregor returns to the Octagon. After besting Alvarez, he indicated that he would take the first part of the year off as he awaited the birth of his first child with girlfriend Dee Devlin. White took it a step further, saying that the Irishman would likely take 10 months off for maternity.