Khabib Nurmagomedov has claimed that his team are in talks with Conor McGregor in the hopes of setting up his first title defense.
The UFC’s lightweight division is under new management since the destructive force that is Khabib Nurmagomedov crowned himself as the divisional champ with a thoroughly dominant win over his short-notice replacement Al Iaquinta in the UFC 223 main-event.
The title of ‘undisputed champ’ hasn’t exactly been undisputed by those who follow the sport, however. With the injury that befell the then-interim champ Tony Ferguson during his scheduled bout with Khabib’s fight week, he was stripped of his belt and forced to relinquish his spot as the division’s top contender to Conor McGregor when Nurmagomedov took home the win in his absence.
It could well be said that Tony defeated a higher calibre of opponent on the way towards capturing his own title and while Al Iaquinta is no doubt a tough customer, he wasn’t even ranked inside the top-10 when he succumbed to Nurmagomedov’s unstoppable pressure.
As for McGregor, well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. He never lost the title he won so emphatically at UFC 205 and while his inactivity is, of course, a justifiable reason to strip him, there will always be those who cite his status as the lineal champ as something that undermines his great Russian rival’s claim to the throne.
Khabib spoke during a Q&A session recently (via MMANytt.com) and claimed that his team and the team of Conor McGregor have been in touch and are hoping to work out a deal by year’s end.
“We’re talking, but if it takes too long, I don’t want to do that. If he wants to fight this year, then we can fight. Otherwise, I don’t know. We won’t wait long. I want to fight Conor and if he can fight, I will fight him.”
There is, of course, some serious uncertainty over the future of the Irishman at this point but even now, all signs do seem to point towards the eventual resolution of his legal issues.
A matchup between Khabib and McGregor would no doubt be unprecedentedly vast in its scope and while we have a pretty fantastic year of fights left to look forward to, getting this bout together would truly be something special indeed.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena