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03rd Jan 2017

Khabib Nurmagomedov offers reason why Conor McGregor fight would not work in Ireland or Russia

We're not so sure

Patrick McCarry

He has a point but Conor McGregor would get millions of people tuning in the world over.

Khabib Nurmagomedov [24-0] is being denied an immediate crack at McGregor and is being frustrated in his attempts to line up a fight with No.1 lightweight contender Tony Ferguson.

‘The Eagle’ was a forth-coming guest on the latest episode of The MMA Hour and predicted 2017 would be the year he took over the UFC’s 155lbs division.

Nurmagomedov is confident Ferguson will eventually sign a bout agreement to set up a title elimination fight at UFC 209 on March 4. After that, he feels his pursuit of McGregor cannot be halted.

Having claimed he would definitely sell out 80,000-seater arenas in Russia, Nurmagomedov admitted such a fight would not likely be a main event against McGregor. Asked if McGregor would take a fight in Russia, Nurmagomedov replied:

“I think no. If I fight with Conor, I think UFC will make it in New York or Las Vegas.

“Madison Square Garden or the T-Mobile Arena because these are the two biggest arenas for pay-per-view shows. Russia, not good for pay-per-view. Irish, not good for pay-per-view.

“Yes, everybody understands this sport [and] that this is a good fight but number one for the UFC, this is business. All the time, the UFC [wants to] make money.”

The Dagestani fighter understands the reality of the business he is in. PPVs are king and the UFC’s new owners just paid over $4bn for the keys to the company.

However, McGregor would argue that he would also sell out an 80,000 Croke Park and shift a clatter of PPVs in the United States, even if there was an afternoon broadcast. He has long called for the UFC to go big in his home nation:

There is no chance the UFC would get permission to stage a post-midnight event at GAA headquarters, which would be the the optimum time to clean up PPV buys.

When McGregor fights next, though, people in the United States will tune in.

Croke Park remains a long-shot option but when McGregor is involved absolutely anything is possible.