Khabib Backtracks, Says McGregor Rematch “Makes Sense”, But on One Condition

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  • Khabib Nurmagomedov now says that a Conor McGregor rematch “makes sense”.
  • However, Khabib is only willing to do it at 155 pounds.
  • Nurmagomedov is set to face Justin Gaethje this Saturday at UFC 254.

After insisting so many times that he doesn’t want to fight Conor McGregor in a rematch, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has changed tone.

The Dagestani has always insisted that he has nothing to prove against the Irishman whom he easily beat at UFC 229. But in a recent interview, Nurmagomedov has softened his stance. Said Khabib in an appearance at the Mike Schwick podcast:

“If he beats him (Dustin Poirier) in 155, it makes sense.But if they fight in 170, how can you fight in 170 and then next fight be in 155? They want to make everything easy. If you want to take it the easy way, you will never deserve another title shot.”
“Remember before I fought him, I said ‘I am going to make you humble and I am going to put you on the line’ and now after two years people understand my words. I am going to put him on the line and I am going to make the decision. If he fights 170, bye bye.”

Nurmagomedov also told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter that McGregor’s January 2021 fight against Dustin Poirier shouldn’t be a no. 1 contender bout if it is fought at welterweight.

Khabib has a valid point here. But when it comes to booking fights, it’s Dana White and his boys who are in charge of that. Given McGregor’s popularity and drawing power, it would be a surprise if the UFC won’t give him a title shot if he beats Poirier. Well, at least from a business standpoint.

Best Fight To Sell

UFC 229, which was headlined by the first bout between Khabib and McGregor, is easily the highest drawing PPV event in UFC history. At a buy rate of 2.4M, it easily toppled the promotion’s previous all-time high of 1.6M buys which was generated by UFC 202. UFC 202 was headlined by the rematch between McGregor and Nate Diaz. The third highest grossing PPV event in the UFC is UFC 196 where McGregor and Diaz fought for the first time.

You see, there’s something about Conor McGregor fights. Five out of the UFC’s Top 6 pay per view events of all-time were headlined by the Irishman. And prior to his PPV record breaker against Khabib, the highest earning PPV event in promotion history involved McGregor in a rematch. What more for a rematch against Khabib?

The UFC had a three-year low average of 340K PPV buys in 2017, the year that McGregor took off to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in boxing. 2018 did better due to UFC 229 but the numbers were significantly lower than 2016 or at the peak of McGregor’s powers. The UFC didn’t have to depend on PPV events in 2019 after its TV deal with Disney commenced. But in a 2020 that has been ravaged by the pandemic, the UFC needs McGregor back and the best fight to sell is the Khabib rematch.

First Things First

But before Dana White can count his chickens before they are hatched, both Nurmagomedov and McGregor must take care of their respective businesses first.

Khabib will face Justin Gaethje this coming Saturday at the main event of UFC 254 at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The Eagle is currently a -350 betting favorite to retain his title. Gaethje is a sizeable +275 underdog in the fight but given that the Highlight has one-punch knockout power and an overlooked All-American wrestling background, it may not be as easy win for Khabib as some fight fans think.

McGregor meanwhile is expected to face Poirier in January. Although no contracts have been signed and Poirier claims that he has not received any offer, McGregor has already announced that he has accepted the fight. Again, from the business side of things, that’s good as a done deal with the A-side confirming. The question then is whether McGregor can repeat his win over Poirier. The Irishman has been listed as a slight -180 betting favorite to beat the Diamond, who is pegged at +140, again.

Khabib can talk about his condition for the rematch but if both fighters win their next assignments, the stars are aligned for a rematch. The UFC wants that big money fight to happen. McGregor wants his revenge. And Khabib could retired as planned, after his 30th fight with a big ransom to settle down with.

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