UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says he is targeting a November showdown with MMA legend Georges St-Pierre at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, in what would be the Russian’s return fight after suspension.
As rumors abound over potential next fight paths for the undefeated Russian, the man himself has now stated firmly that he wants a match-up with Canadian great St-Pierre on a return to action in New York in November.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Russian channel Match TV, Nurmagomedov named the man known as GSP as his desired opponent, despite the 37-year-old Canadian being at the tail-end of his career.
“He has one or two fights left… Georges St-Pierre is the greatest fighter ever to step in the octagon. That’s my opinion.“I think he can drop to my weight [155lbs]. It would be interesting to fight him.“My return will be planned for around November, in New York [in Madison Square Garden]. He’s fought there before, and there’s a big [Russian] diaspora."
The pair have a clear mutual respect, with St-Pierre saying he rates Nurmagomedov, 30, as the best fighter on the planet, calling him "a real good problem to solve."
The Canadian MMA legend revealed earlier this week that his team had been making efforts to book a fight with Khabib through the UFC, but without success.
"It's been a few months that my agents are in communication with the UFC to try to make a fight happen [Khabib Nurmagomedov],” St-Pierre said at an event at the Canadian Museum of History."I know Khabib wanted to fight me and I wanted to fight him. It's not about feeling, it's just about respect, and for me as an athlete, what drives me the most - what is the most exciting for an athlete in combat sports - is to be able to beat someone who seems invincible."
The UFC might be reluctant to green light a fight against Nurmagomedov, especially with so many potential challengers in the lightweight division..
Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz,even tweeted on Saturday that Tony Ferguson would be "next" for his man
St-Pierre said this week: "I'm sure for the UFC from a business standpoint they want to keep [Khabib] there [at the top] and I understand, you know? Instead of taking a risk and putting him against a guy like me.
"I do my best for my interest, and they do what is the best for their interests, and that's where it is right now."
The Russian MMA star said that despite his recent woes with the Nevada authorities, he would remain in the UFC and wanted to see out his career in the promotion, foreseeing another two or three years at the top of the game before calling it quits.
At this point, any fight Khabib takes will be worth watching.
If he's the best of the best, people will tune in.