Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov expands MMA promotion in the US in 2022
Khabib Nurmagomedov may be taking a break from the UFC, but he’s as busy as ever.
The undefeated former UFC lightweight champion told ESPN this weekend that his MMA promoter, Eagle FC, is planning to expand to the United States. Nurmagomedov said Eagle FC will host an event in January in Miami and another is being targeted for that city in March.
Nurmagomedov, 33, purchased a promotion formerly known as the Gorilla Fighting Championship in late 2020. As of December 2020, the rebranded Eagle FC – named after Nurmagomedov’s “Eagle” moniker – organized 15 events, mainly in his home country of Russia. One in Kazakhstan and one in Kyrgyzstan.
According to Nurmagomedov, the January show will be Eagle FC’s debut in the United States, which will make way for several other shows in the United States in 2022. Eagle FC officials are working with media company FLX about a manufacturing facility in Miami that will be called the FLX Arena. Eagle FC events in the US will take place outside of that venue and be broadcast live on the FLXcast app.
Nurmagomedov, who is considered one of the greatest MMA fighters to have ever lived, said the January show will be “huge” and that a number of stars have already been signed on, including veterans of the major promotions like UFC and Bellator. A press conference is scheduled for December 15 in Miami to make further announcements. He is expected to sign 50 or more boxers for next year.
“If you want to be great in MMA, you have to be in America,” Nurmagomedov said. “For boxers, to get promoted, you have to be in America. If you’re not in America, you can never be number one or the best. It’s almost impossible.”
Nurmagomedov said he has his own vision for Eagle FC and does not want to compete with the likes of UFC, Bellator, PFL or any other promotions around the world.
“It is no secret that the UFC is the best tournament in the world,” said Nurmagomedov, who retired with a 29-0 MMA record. “For almost 30 years, these men, the UFC, have put on a great show around the world. UFC is a great brand. I don’t want to compete with them or other promotions. I have my principles. I have my opinion.”
Nurmagomedov said he will play a promoter, like UFC president Dana White, at media events and in boxer fights. But he joked that he didn’t want to be exactly like White.
“First of all, I have hair on my head,” Nurmagomedov said with a laugh. “I saw pictures of Dana when he was just starting out in the UFC. Now you can see he has no hair on his head. I don’t want to be like Dana.”
In addition to running Eagle FC with CEO Rizvan Magomedov, Nurmagomedov has also established himself as one of the best coaches in MMA since retiring in October 2020. He has gone undefeated as a MMA player. corner player in many big promotions in 2021. Nurmagomedov said that starting in January, he will bring his fighters from Dagestan back to the USA Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. His longtime training partner and childhood friend Islam Makhachev takes on Beneil Dariush on February 26 in what is most likely a UFC lightweight title knockout.
“In January, we will travel,” Nurmagomedov said. “And February and March, we’ll go hunting. The Eagles will go hunting.”
One thing very busy Nurmagomedov won’t do in 2022 – or ever – is get back into the cage, he said. Nurmagomedov says that chapter of his life is over and the UFC can’t come up with anything to make him change his mind.
“Nothing and nobody,” Nurmagomedov said. “We have a goal to get this belt back. His name is Islam Makhachev. He [has] to get the belt back to Dagestan. I really believe in him. I really believe in his skill – he can do this. I really believe that next – late next year – we will be bringing this belt home. “