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15th Nov 2016

Joe Rogan predicts Conor McGregor’s first defence will be a monstrous spectacle on enemy territory

Could you imagine?

Ben Kiely

What show could possibly top UFC 205, you ask? Joe Rogan may have the answer.

UFC president Dana White made a couple of brief comments in the UFC 205 post-fight press conference that may have gotten overshadowed by the Conor McGregor show.

But in hindsight, his comments about the promotion’s efforts to expand into new territories may actually impact on the UFC featherweight and lightweight champion’s next fight.

“Ari (Emanuel) and I are going to Russia in the next couple of weeks, we’re working on Russia, we’re working on China. We’re making some real big moves here in the next several months.”

“I promise you this: when we roll into Russia, we’re going to make it big.”

Undoubtedly the biggest Russian star currently in the UFC is undefeated lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Sambo specialist is 24-0 with his most recent victory coming against Michael Johnson on the undercard of McGregor’s history-making bout against Eddie Alvarez in New York. Many viewed that fight as a potential 155 lb title eliminator bout, including Joe Rogan, who talked at length about the Dagestani on a recent episode of his podcast the Joe Rogan Experience.

UFC 205: Nurmagomedov v Johnson

“Conor and Khabib are the fight. Khabib needs to get the title shot at least. That’s what I think. I think he deserves it. He’s the only undefeated challenger. He’s a monster. He’s mauled everyone in front of him. He hasn’t had a single god damn close fight. He’s had one moment when he gets dinged.”

Rogan believes White was telling the truth when he spoke about the promotion’s ambitions for their first Russia-based event. He feels that McGregor will be matched up against Khabib in the lion’s den in a fight that could easily be marketed as the real life version of Rocky IV.

“Listen to what I’m saying to you right now. The UFC is about to go to Russia. They’re going to do it. UFC in Russia: Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov. That’s what I think is coming. GIANT! GIANT!”

McGregor is by far the biggest superstar in the sport right now, but Rogan is unsure how the Russian crowd would react to him, especially after seeing how much the New York crowd got behind him at UFC 205. However, he realises that a lot of Russian MMA fans have an insane hero worship of the Eagle.

“Here’s the deal though, Russia’s bigger than Ireland, but the United States is bigger than Ireland too and when Conor McGregor’s fighting in New York city, which is an hour and a half from Eddie Alvarez’s house, they’re booing Eddie Alvarez as he’s walking to the cage.”

“When you go to Russia, I wonder if he (McGregor) gets booed in Russia. If you check my Instagram every time a photo goes up it’s ‘Khabib Time,’ ‘Khabib King,’ Khabib Champ’.”

UFC 205: Open Workouts

One problem the UFC have right now, and it’s a pretty decent problem to have, is that there are two stand-out contenders who could argue their case for the next crack at the lightweight strap. Tony Ferguson is currently riding a nine-fight win-streak, is just coming off a dominant victory over former champion Rafael dos Anjos and has been way more active than Nurmagomedov over the last couple of years.

However, Rogan feels that the Dagestani may get the nod, because he was already being lined up for the shot prior to Ferguson’s last trip tot he Octagon.

“He’s a fucking monster and he’s hero to the Russian MMA fans. This guy from Dagestan and he’s been mauling everybody in front of him and people think, and rightly so, that he’s being unjustly kept from a title shot.”

“They did promise him this fight. This was something that they said, ‘No, Khabib is getting the next shot at the title.’ This was something that was publicly stated, which made sense at the time because Khabib was 23-0, he was going to fight at Madison Square Garden for the title. Khabib vs Eddie Alvarez.”

Rogan’s guest, former UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub raised a very valid point in regard to this potential fight. If the promotion’s big wigs want the Notorious to travel all the way to Russia for his first defence, they must know it will cost them.

“If you are correct and that’s the fight in Russia, the amount of money they are going to have to pay Conor to fight him in Russia when Conor’s still the draw… you’re talking about a different ball game. SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

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