The table is set for Conor McGregor’s return to MMA. And the most likely opponent appears to be lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. But, if the fight is going to happen, the UFC has to make sure that the champion is getting a reasonable cut.
Nate Diaz’s declared public earnings from UFC 202 came in at just $2 million dollars. A lot of money for a UFC base salary, but not the kind of figure manager Ali Abdelaziz seems to have in mind when says that his fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, needs to be pulling in more than Nate if a bout with McGregor is going to come to fruition.
Abdelaziz is currently in negotiations with the UFC to put together a PPV headlining fight between Nurmagomedov, the current lightweight champion, and Conor McGregor – in McGregor’s first fight since his loss to Floyd Mayweather in August of last year. McGregor held the belt right up until Khabib stepped into the Octagon against Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 back in April, when the UFC officially stripped him. A bout between the former and current champs makes sense for all parties. Especially where Nurmagomedov is concerned, since McGregor is one of the biggest guaranteed paydays in combat sports today.
And it’s that last point that Abdelaziz addressed at a recent media luncheon in Los Angeles, where he sounded confident that the fight would get made, most likely in time for the October 6th UFC 229 card in Las Vegas (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“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.”
As to how much they were asking for, Abdelaziz threw out $10 million as a casual number – although it’s unclear whether that would be guaranteed money, or PPV buy & live gate dependent.
“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.”
If Khabib vs. Conor can sell anything like the way McGregor’s two bouts with Diaz did (never mind trying to hit those Mayweather numbers) that’s likely still a bargain. So hopefully all sides can come together and make this fight happen in the next couple months. Otherwise the UFC may go the full year without a million+ buy PPV event.