Khabib Nurmagomedov Planning U.S. Expansion for MMA Promotion in 2022
Khabib Nurmagomedov will bring Eagle Fighting Championship to the United States early next year.
The retired former UFC champion told ESPN that he plans to hold events in Miami with his mixed martial arts promotion in both January and March, with hopes for several more in the U.S. as the year progresses. Eagle FC is working with media company FLX on a production facility in Miami that will host the organization’s cards, which are expected to stream on the FLXcast app.
"If you want to become big in MMA, you have to be in USA," Nurmagomedov said. "For fighters, for promotion, you have to be in U.S. If you're not in U.S., you can never become No. 1 or best. It's almost impossible.”
Nurmagomedov told ESPN that the Eagle FC has signed multiple fighters with previous ties to major organizations like the UFC and Bellator. He hopes to add at least 50 fighters to his promotion for the coming year. Nurmagomedov, however, does not want to compete with other well-known MMA companies, including the one where he established himself as arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
"It's not a secret the UFC is the best in the world," Nurmagomedov said. "Almost 30 years these guys, the UFC, have done a great show around the world. UFC is a great brand. I don't want to compete with them or other promotions. I have my principles. I have my view.”
Nurmagomedov bought Eagle FC — formerly known as Gorilla Fighting Championship — and rebranded it in late 2020. Since last December, the promotion has held 15 events — with the majority being held in Russia. A press conference is expected to be held on Dec. 15 for further news regarding the promotion’s U.S. expansion.
Nurmagomedov, who retired following a victory over Justin Gaethje in the UFC 254 headliner on Oct. 24, 2020, still has no plans of making a comeback. Instead, he’s focused on running his promotion and serving as a coach for fighters like top UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev.
"Nothing and nobody [can change my mind],” Nurmagomedov said. "We have goals to take back this belt. His name is Islam Makhachev. He [has] to take belt back to Dagestan. I truly believe in him. I truly believe his skill -- he can do this. I really believe next -- end of the next year -- we're gonna take this belt home.”