Khabib Nurmagomedov targets Russia return against Tony Ferguson, tells Conor McGregor to 'get in line'

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has earmarked a timeline, a city and an opponent for his octagon return, and it doesn’t make great reading for Conor McGregor.

The Irishman has made clear his desire to secure a rematch with “The Eagle” and recently offered to fight Nurmagomedov in Moscow. But, speaking at the Synergy Forum in St. Petersburg, Nurmagomedov laid out his thoughts regarding his next UFC appearance.

“It will be in March or April,” he explained (as translated by RT Sport). “I said it clearly – I want to fight in a large arena, and the only large indoor arena in Russia is Gazprom Arena (in St. Petersburg). So I want to fight there.”

The arena, known more popularly as the Krestovsky Stadium, boasts a retractible roof and seats up to 80,000 fans. The stadium also featured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where it hosted seven matches during the tournament, including a semi-final and the third-place playoff between Belgium and England.

A Nurmagomedov fight in the stadium would be a huge occasion to match the one we just witnessed in Melbourne at UFC 243 but, according to Nurmagomedov, McGregor’s face wouldn’t be sitting alongside his on the fight poster. Instead, Nurmagomedov said he wants to fight former interim champ Tony Ferguson.

“From a fighter’s point of view, (the McGregor rivalry) is a thing of the past,” he said. “I have nothing to prove. But he has something to prove. We know he does. There’s a lot of businessmen here and I think most of them will tell me to fight him because it’ll bring money. I’d fight all the main contenders first, and I could fight him to benefit my agricultural projects.

“I have to say that Tony Ferguson deserves it more. You have to give him credit. He is on a 12-fight win streak and he deserves it more than Conor. Conor has to come back (and) stop hitting old people. He is a professional fighter. He should come back, win, earn his place and get in line.”

As for his rivalry with McGregor, Nurmagomedov admitted: “I’m not ready to shake his hand right now.

“When a person continues to behave this way, it means that it’s his nature. We saw that he recently hit a 70-year-old man. It shows a lack of morality and manners. So I’m not ready to shake his hand until he realizes something.”

However, Khabib did suggest that a sincere apology from a contrite Conor would be accepted in good faith.

“Apologies always have to be accepted, no matter what he said. If a person apologizes and accepts his mistakes, we have to excuse him.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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