This past week, all the talk revolved around the earnings potential of returning Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Conor McGregor.
And while McGregor is very likely the highest-paid fighter in the promotion, the last man to beat the Irishman in the Octagon is in a pretty impressive income bracket, as well. To hear UFC president Dana White tell it, reigning lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov is already in the McGregor stratosphere in that regard.
“Everybody talks about how rich Conor is,” White said at the UFC 246 post-fight press conference. “Khabib is rich. Khabib has that type of money. Khabib has that type of money. When I say that type of money, I mean over $50 million.”
Nurmagomedov earned a disclosed $2 million payday for his fourth-round submission triumph over McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018, while his opponent pocketed $3 million. Of course, those figures don’t include bonuses, pay-per-view points, sponsorships and the like.
McGregor appears to have plenty of interesting options following his 40-second stoppage of Donald Cerrone in the UFC 246 main event. However, White believes a rematch with Nurmagomedov possesses the most blockbuster potential.
"We're looking at Hagler-Hearns," White said. "We're looking at like Ali-Foreman, Ali-Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It's the fight you make, it's the fight that makes sense. It's for the 155-pound title.
"If Conor and [Jorge] Masvidal fight, neither one of them even has a title. Although Conor does want his BMF title. He doesn't have a world championship. So Khabib is the fight to make. It's huge for Khabib's legacy, too. If he beat Conor McGregor, then he beats Tony Ferguson, then he beats Conor McGregor again, I mean this is how this kid, when he retires, he's 30-something-and-oh and he's beaten all of the best.”
Nurmagomeodv hasn’t been keen on a rematch with McGregor, but the animosity between the two men is still there. Their first meeting ended in a post-fight melee that resulted in Nevada Athletic Commission-suspensions for both men, but the pay-per-view itself was one of the biggest sellers in promotion history. White believes the Dagestani fighter would come around if the situation arises.
“The reality is, Khabib has never turned down a fight – ever,” White said. “Khabib doesn’t turn down fights. That’s just not his style. He hates Conor McGregor. Conor McGregor hates him. Anytime you talk about one to the other, those are the type of responses you’re going to get.”
During Saturday’s post-fight press conference, White estimated that Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor 2 could rival some of the biggest pay-per-view events of all-time, including the aptly-named “Money Fight.”
“I’ll bet it does more [than 3 million buys],” White said. “I’m telling you right now, Khabib vs. Conor is the biggest fight in the sports history, but I think it might rival Conor and Floyd.”
For now, it’s a matter of figuring out what McGregor wants to do next. If both parties eventually agree to a rematch, an even more lucrative payday could await.
"There's a lot of different things that make sense that you could do," White said. "I've gotta see what [McGregor] wants to do. I know he wants this fight, and I think he's willing to wait to get it.
"Look, do I want to see Conor fight three times this year? Sure. Do I want to see Masvidal against Conor? Sure. But you've gotta do what makes sense, too. And I just really think the Khabib-Conor fight is big for both of their legacies and obviously for the sport.”