Khabib Nurmagomedov is the latest UFC contender to feel slighted by the perceived special treatment of Conor McGregor, and he is willing to take drastic measures to express his discontent.
Nurmagomedov is scheduled to face Michael Johnson at UFC 205 in New York on Nov. 12. On that same card, Eddie Alvarez will defend the lightweight crown against McGregor in the evening’s headliner at Madison Square Garden. For a brief period, it appeared that Nurmagomedov, not McGregor, would get the title shot.
It was even announced on UFC Tonight that the promotion was targeting Alvarez vs. Nurmagomedov for UFC 206 after the champion missed the deadline to sign a bout agreement for UFC 205. Instead, Alvarez-McGregor was signed, and Nurmagomedov is none too happy about how things played out.
"I'm a little bit upset because I already had two contracts to fight for the title at 205 and UFC 206. I signed both of them and after that the UFC makes this bullsh—t decision,” Nurmagomedov said on Sirius XM’s “The Luke Thomas Show”. “I'm a little bit upset but it's okay. Sometimes sh— happens, you know…”
However, Nurmagomedov is willing to follow in the footsteps of Jose Aldo if he isn’t rewarded for performing at UFC 205. Aldo recently requested the termination of his UFC contract because McGregor has yet to defend the featherweight title since winning it from the Brazilian last December. In the meantime, Aldo claimed interim gold with a win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. Nurmagomedov is planning on taking a similar stance if he defeats Johnson.
"If I don't fight [for the title], I'm gonna show how I have power in Russia,” he said. “And UFC, I don't fight in UFC ever and UFC never, ever go to the Russia. UFC think Conor have power. I have power too. This is not all about pay-per-view. I have power too. I'm gonna show this power.”
UFC President Dana White said earlier this year that the Las Vegas-based promotion is l looking at holding an event in Russia in the future. Nurmagomedov would be a centerpiece of such a hypothetical card.
"After this fight I have to fight for the title. UFC thinks Conor has power? Irish people only like 6 million people. I am from Russia. 150 million people,” Nurmagomedov said. “If UFC don't give me the title fight after this fight, I'm going to show how I have power in Russia. I know if I don't fight for the title next fight, UFC will never, ever go to Russia.”
Nurmagomedov is unbeaten in 23 professional appearances, including seven victories inside the Octagon. A title opportunity might have come sooner for the Dagestani fighter, but injuries have limited his activity in recent years. Still, Nurmagomedov checks in at No. 1 on the UFC.com 155-pound rankings.
"Eddie understands who is who. Eddie and Eddie's coaches, everybody know 'this a very tough fight for me.' That's why he don't take this fight. He even said 'I want an easy fight'. You're champion. UFC champion. You're supposed to fight No. 1 ranked, and number one ranked is not easy,” he said. “For me, it's a crazy situation. But it's ok. Life is going and I'm going to keep going and I'm going to finish Michael Johnson at UFC 205 and after this I want to fight for the title.”