UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has his next fight booked and a lucrative new multi-fight contract to go along with it.
On Tuesday, the UFC announced that Nurmagomedov would face interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in a title unification bout on Sept. 7 at UFC 242 from Abu Dhabi.
The fight was signed along with a new contract as the undefeated Russian only had one bout left on his old deal with the UFC.
“We’re extremely happy,” Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdel-Aziz said about the new contract when speaking to MMAFighting on Tuesday. “We’re well taken care of. We can’t ask for any better. We very grateful. Easiest negotiation I ever did. It was fair, straight to the point. This is one of the biggest deals in UFC history. I don’t care Conor [McGregor], I don’t care this is one of the biggest guaranteed money [contracts] in UFC history. When you do this kind of deal, people normally burn bridges. The bridges only got stronger, that’s all I’m going to say.
“The UFC stepped up. They give us what we want and they made a good business decision on their behalf and they made us a partner. We are all partners. We are in it together on this.”
Nurmagomedov has gone 11-0 thus far in his UFC career including his title fight win against Al Iaquinta last April followed by a fourth round submission victory over Conor McGregor in his first championship defense this past October.
Between his undefeated record, dominant performance and growing star status on a global scale, Abdel-Aziz knew the UFC would deliver when it came time to sign him to a new contract.
“My opinion right now, Khabib is the pound-for-pound greatest fighter we’ve ever seen,” Abdel-Aziz stated. “He never lost. He’s never been caught. He’s never been dropped. He’s dominated every round against almost every opponent. No [performance-enhancing drugs], nothing.
“This is why he’s the highest-paid athlete in the UFC today. Believe me. He’s the highest-paid athlete in the UFC today. And I’m saying that again because I see everything. They showed me everything. Khabib is the highest-paid athlete in the UFC and we are happy. It’s time to fight.”
As of now there’s no exact schedule for Nurmagomedov’s return to the United States to begin his training camp but that will likely come together over the next few weeks.
The anticipation is already building, however, because the 30-year-old Dagestani native was very excited for the chance to perform in front of the audience in Abu Dhabi. According to Abdel-Aziiz, he will also be joined on the card by his cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov and his teammate Zubaira Tukhugov.
“The is like a prince getting to show off all of his skills in front of his own people. This is coming home,” Abdel-Aziz said about the fight happening in Abu Dhabi. “This is the people who have been supporting him, the whole entire Middle East, the whole north of Africa, 1.5 billion Muslims and the UFC did the right decision. They know he is the biggest draw right now in the Muslim world and Dana White an entrepreneur. Dana White is the biggest promoter in combat [sports] history. This is who he is and he made a very good business decision.
“They kept their word. They got Abubakar [Nurmagomedov] and Zubaira [Tukhugov] a fight on the same card as Khabib. They re-signed Zubaira to the UFC. Everything they said, they delivered. We have to deliver, too, that’s it.”
If there is one other major factor that will serve as inspiration for the reigning lightweight champion heading into his fight against Poirier at UFC 242, it’s that his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, will return to corner his son in Abu Dhabi.
Visa issues have prevented him from being in Nurmagomedov’s corner recently but now he will have the chance to be there when his son faces Poirier in September.
“One of the most important things for Khabib is his father will be in his corner. This is worth so much more than a lot of money,” Abdel-Aziz said. “Money is important but his father being able to corner him, this is something worth so much more.”