Khabib Nurmagomedov says UFC ‘will negotiate’ Georges St-Pierre fight after UFC 254

Following the tragic loss of his father due to complications related to COVID-19, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is turning to MMA to help him get through a tough time, and says there is one fight his father would have loved him to take before he retires.

Speaking to reporters in Russia at the announcement of his own MMA promotion, MMA Global, Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) admitted that the possibility of retirement had crossed his mind following the death of his father, Abdulmanap, in July, but said his fight booking with Justin Gaethje, plus the need to keep his mind active, meant that he has decided to continue with his fighting career.

“I had different thoughts about retirement, but I already have a fight,” Nurmagomedov explained in an interview translated from Russian. “I’m 32 years old soon, I’m already a veteran of this sport. I have been in the UFC for more than eight years. Now I want to fight (and) be busy with something. The regime helps me get distracted.”

Nurmagomedov is scheduled to face interim champion Justin Gaethje in a lightweight title unification bout at UFC 254 on Oct. 24, but the undefeated Russian said the prospect of facing former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is one that would have meant a lot to his father, and therefore also means a lot to him, too.

“This is a fight between my dreams and my father,” he explained. “Time is ticking, St-Pierre is 40 years old next year, he has to decide whether we will fight or not.”

If St-Pierre is keen, Nurmagomedov said a bout with “Rush” would trump any other potential fight that the UFC could put on the table, including a rematch with Conor McGregor or a fight with the man he’s signed to face five times already, Tony Ferguson.

“If (St-Pierre) comes back to the UFC and agrees to fight me, I’m fighting him,” Nurmagomedov stated. “Why? Because the last time he lost was 2007. My career started in 2008. Together we’ve been undefeated for 25 years. I’m talking in terms of time, not fights. I don’t think the UFC will get another chance to make a fight like that, definitely not in the next 10 years. So, Georges St-Pierre is next. If not, then let Conor beat (Dustin) Poirier or have Tony beat him, then I’ll fight them.”

Nurmagomedov also revealed that the UFC seems to be open to the idea and said the promotion is ready to thrash out a deal with St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) following the Russian’s fight with Gaethje.

“If I beat Gaethje, then in April I could fight St-Pierre,” he said. “(The UFC) told me that they will negotiate with St-Pierre.”

In the meantime, Nurmagomedov is focusing his attention on Gaethje, but admitted that the shadow of his father’s death still looms as he prepares for his next title defense.

“This, of course, bothers me, I think about him,” he said. “Maybe these feelings will take me to a new level (and) make me stronger.”

One fight Nurmagomedov won’t be pursuing, however, is a cross-codes fight with Floyd Mayweather, with the Russian revealing there is still interest from the Mayweather’s side. But he said he values his relationship with the UFC over the huge payday he’d likely receive for facing the 50-0 boxing superstar.

“I am still offered a fight with Mayweather, despite the contract with the UFC,” he revealed. “They are even ready to pay all the penalties, because the UFC will have to sue. … But I have a contract with the UFC, and this is more important than money.”

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