In the aftermath of UFC 205, Khabib Nurmagomedov has not stopped campaigning for a title shot against Conor McGregor. At first, he produced a dominant showing against Michael Johnson. Then he gave the UFC an ultimatum that involved leaving the organization if he is not given a title match in his next outing. Finally, the Dagestani native settled on demanding an interim title fight against Tony Ferguson to cement his contendership status.
A frustrated Ali Abdel Aziz appeared on The MMA Hour to discuss the matter and revealed that Nurmagomedov has already received offers to complete elsewhere.
“Khabib is under a UFC contract and I will never break a UFC contract and sign with another promotion,” Ali told Ariel Helwani on Monday (h/t MMAMania) He got offered $5 million from a promotion in Russia to fight. You understand? That’s how much the man can get. We would never do anything like that because we will always honor UFC contract.”
While Abdel Aziz did not state the specific organization that courted Khabib, sources have informed BloodyElbow that it was likely Eurasia Fight Nights that offered the UFC fighter millions to complete for them. The offer likely extended from the promotion’s main majority shareholder, Ziyavudin Magomedov, an oligarch with ties to the Kremlin.
As previously reported on BloodyElbow, Magomedov had lost influence in Russia after Dmitry Medvedev’s term as president came to an end. He became interested in purchasing a stake in the UFC though was unable to work out an agreement. He later invested in Fight Nights Global and funded Fedor Emelianenko’s one-off fight against Fabio Maldonado back in June 2016.
Through hosting a successful event that included one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite fighters, he was able to secure a meeting with the leader during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that same week. Magomedov transformed his opportunity into a deal to bring Ellon Musk’s Hyperloop One tube transportation system to Russia. He was once again a member of the Russian elite and resumed that position through a shrewd application of sports diplomacy.
Khaibib met with Magomedov at Fight Nights Global 55 in Moscow, where he was also seated ringside with the oligarch. The two have a friendly relationship which includes Magomedov gifting Khabib with a brand new Mercedes AMG GT. While many assumed this was nothing more than a gift, BloodyElbow delved into the Russian tactic and why it is used by dictators and oligarchs alike. In Khabib’s case, Magomedov was likely investing in a fighter who could be beneficial to his promotion. Nurmagomedov can make appearances at his shows (has done so countless times), help promote certain fights, and maybe even compete on a show.
It is also true that fighters and athletes lavished in gifts find themselves on the first steps of the ladder to the Russian elite.