LOS ANGELES — There is a definitive basement as to what Khabib Nurmagomedov will accept financially for his impending fight with Conor McGregor.
Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz told MMA Fighting on Monday that his client will not take less money to fight McGregor than Nate Diaz made against the Irishman. Diaz took home a guaranteed $2 million at UFC 202 in August 2016 for his fight with McGregor. He likely got paid much more with his share of pay-per-view revenue.
Abdelaziz did say he believes he’ll get a deal done for Nurmagomedov to defend his lightweight title against McGregor, the absentee former champion, because of his relationship with UFC president Dana White, general counsel Hunter Campbell and matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard.
“We will get a deal done,” Abdelaziz said at a UFC 227 media lunch for his client Cody Garbrandt. “Trust me. My relationship with Dana, Hunter, Sean, Mick. I have a different relationship. I’m not gonna overplay my hand and they need to be fair. There’s no way in hell Nate Diaz can make more money than Khabib. There’s no way in hell. [Nurmagomedov is the] undefeated, undisputed lightweight champion of he world. That’s it.”
The timeframe for Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor seems to be either UFC 229 on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas or UFC 230 on Nov. 3 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Both present that fight — which could be the biggest in UFC history — with the proper geographical spotlight. Another possibility would likely be UFC 232 on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas, the UFC’s big annual end-of-the year card.
Abdelaziz said, though, that if the right price is not there for Nurmagomedov, the Dagestan native has no problem defending the 155-pound title against Dustin Poirier. Poirier is coming off a second-round TKO win over Eddie Alvarez, another former champ, at UFC on FOX 30 last weekend.
“If Conor starts playing games, we’re fighting Poirier,” Abdelaziz said. “Poirier will get the shot. I think he deserves it before Conor. But Conor wants to come, you’ve gotta bring your check book with you. Because he doesn’t deserve it. Poirier deserves it. “
Nurmagomedov said over the weekend at UFC on FOX 30 in Calgary that he believes McGregor is not necessarily deserving of a title shot from a merit perspective, because he is 2-2 in his last four fights. “The Eagle” is looking at this like a money fight — and he wants to be paid accordingly.
“If you want to make this fight happen, it’s about money,” Abdelaziz said. “It’s not about who’s the champion, the rankings — none of this stuff. It’s about money. Khabib wants to kick his ass, I want to see it, but at the end of the day, if Conor fights it’s business.”
A fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov has been brewing for some time. McGregor and his posse attacked a bus he believed Nurmagomedov to be on during UFC 223 fight week in April. McGregor was arrested and took a plea deal last week to avoid jail time after he threw a dolly that shattered a window of the bus, spraying glass onto UFC fighters.
The attack was reportedly in retaliation for Nurmagomedov and his team cornering McGregor’s friend and teammate Artem Lobov earlier that week in Brooklyn.
There is a ton of heat on the fight. And Abdelaziz retired that Nurmagomedov — and everything he has accomplished — is a huge reason why.
“I’m not a greedy guy,” Abdelaziz said. “Go ahead and make $100 million. If Khabib can make $10 million, I’m happy. At the end of the day, it’s not just somebody I manage. It’s my little brother, too. It’s not, ‘I’m gonna fight for him, I’m gonna get you this deal.’ It’s what he deserves. I don’t want anything extra than what he deserves. That’s it. I believe he’s one of the biggest stars in the UFC today.”