Khabib Nurmagomedov’s always-vocal manager Ali Abdelaziz has insisted that his client will need a proven PPV draw for his next outing.
UFC 229 was by far and away the most successful event in the history of MMA from a financial perspective. Of course, the vast majority of the eyes that were on that show were drawn in by the magnetism of headliner Conor McGregor but through the build-up, the fight itself, and, of course, the now-infamous post-fight skirmish, a new star was undoubtedly born in the form of Khabib Nurmagomedov.
According to his manager Ali Abdelaziz, the lightweight champion will not be tempted to return to the octagon for his next bout without some serious financial incentive.
Speaking to MMAFighting, Ali made it clear that Nurmagomedov’s legacy is now set in stone and that another matchup of lucrative proportions is on the agenda.
“At the end of the day, Khabib doesn’t need to fight anybody else for his legacy. He’s done what he’s done. He’s 27-0, he’s 12-0 in the UFC, he’s never been dropped, he’s never been caught, he’s never been knocked down.
“Let’s talk about a GOAT. No PEDs. We talk about the greatest of all-time, I think that he should be on top of the list, because he never lost to anybody. He’s never lost, he’s never been dropped, he’s never been stitched, nothing.”
UFC president Dana White has already confirmed that he would need to see both Khabib and Conor McGregor emerge victorious from their next matchup in order to make a second showdown between them.
After the long, drawn-out process required to get those two into the octagon, it’s an idea that the fans can certainly get behind. Not many want Khabib/McGregor II right now but a showdown with the undisputed top-ranked contender in the lightweight division, Tony Ferguson, is a fight that many are pointing to as one of the best the promotion can make.
According to Abdelaziz, however, the Russian will need a big-money incentive to get back in there right away.
“So the biggest money-fight he can make. Boxing, MMA, whatever. I love Tony Ferguson— he’s not that, I can tell you that.
“One-hundred percent, Tony Ferguson is not the next fight, because Tony Ferguson — I need somebody who can sell pay-per-views.
“At the end of the day, it will be the exact same situation. Khabib was supposed to fight Eddie Alvarez, remember that? When he got taken out. We understood it because Conor’s going to bring pay-per-views. We need people who can help us sell pay-per-views, and that’s it.”
Similarly, and perhaps to an even greater extent than with Nate Diaz, it’s hard to know exactly how much of a draw Khabib will be without the fiery presence of his latest victim McGregor beside him but either way, with his unbeaten record still intact, it cannot be denied that ‘The Eagle’ is set for a massive 2019.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena