Khabib Nurmagomedov set for Tony Ferguson title fight in New York
Just like Conor McGregor before him, 'The Eagle' is struggling to convince the UFC to book him into a title fight on home soil.
You can have star power, drive pay-per-view numbers and be a UFC champion but Dana White and the rest of the promotion's brass want the very biggest fights on American turf. Khabib Nurmagomedov acknowledges that.
At the peak of his powers, McGregor often spoke of a bout in Dublin but when it came time to sign bout agreements, it was either Las Vegas or New York. There, the most expensive seats can be sold and there, East or West Coast, is the prime-time PPV audience.
And so, after his September victory over Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi, Nurmagomedov is being told it is time to book another fight in the United States.
The lightweight champion is set to face off against No.1 contender Tony Ferguson - fifth time lucky - in 2020 and the UFC want that to be next March in Las Vegas as the UFC 248 headliner.
The Dagestani has an issue with the fight taking place in Vegas, and it is a big one that stems back to the post-fight brawl he sparked at UFC 229, moments after he defeated McGregor. At a press conference in Moscow today, he declared:
"We're in talks now. The UFC has suggested having it in Vegas in March, but [the Nevada State Athletic Commission] have to issue me an official apology for fining me for the incident on 6 October, 2018."
That's right, Nurmagomedov wants either an apology or his $500,000 fine back, or both. If he does not get that from the NSAC, and he is unlikely to, he is content to delay his next fight a month.
"If they apologise, I'll fight," Nurmagomedov continued.
"If not, we'll pick another venue. I'll fight in April in New York. I'll be ready in April... March if Vegas apologises or gives me back my money. Those are my conditions. We're in talks now."
Of course, it would not be a Khabib Nurmagomedov press appearance without a question about a possible rematch with McGregor. On 'The Notorious', he commented, "To fight for a belt in the UFC, I remember I had something like nine or 10 fights. If he wins 10 fights in a row, then that's completely possible."