Back in June of 2017, Dana White was happy to tease the idea that Conor McGregor told him he wanted to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia.
“You know what Conor told me?” Dana white said in an interview with MMA Junkie, “He says, ‘I want Khabib, in Russia.’ Isn’t he f-ing awesome!? He’s like, ‘I want Khabib, in Russia.’”
And while it seems like an idea that both fighters would be willing to get behind, it no longer seems like the Irish superstar will get his wish... or at least not the “in Russia” part of it.
If Nurmagomedov defends his UFC lightweight championship against former titleholder McGregor in his next bout, it will most likely take place in Las Vegas, the MMA capital, White told TMZ on Monday.
“If you do a fight that big, you gotta do it in Vegas,” White said. “Khabib will fight in Russia at some point, but it won’t be that fight. It’s too big; you gotta do it in Vegas.”
The UFC’s debut in Russia is targeted for September, but it is not yet clear whether the card will be a “Fight Night” or a pay-per-view event. It has yet to be confirmed by the UFC, but White has said multiple times in recent months that the UFC will indeed go to Russia sometime in 2018.
Before Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor (which would perhaps do historic numbers on pay-per-view for the promotion) is officially scheduled, McGregor’s legal case needs to be settled. ‘The Notorious’ threw a dolly at a UFC bus earlier this month, injuring multiple fighters who were expected to compete at UFC 223 in Brooklyn. He was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault, among others.
“He’s gotta be punished by the law first,” White said. “Let’s see what happens in New York.”
McGregor’s next court date is June 14.
Nurmagomedov won the lightweight title with a dominant win over late replacement Al Iaquintain the UFC 223 main event. McGregor was stripped of the belt at the commencement of the bout.
A lot has changed since White first mentioned McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov in Russia. And while it seems the two lightweights could still square off soon, the idea of holding the bout overseas probably never was realistic to begin with.