The $5 Million Question: What Stands Between Khabib and a Superfight with St-Pierre

August 24, 2023
From: Spartacus

The combat sports world remains abuzz with anticipation and speculation, as two legends, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre, tease the possibility of a dream match. However, according to revelations from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu star Craig Jones, it appears that financial considerations have stalled the much-awaited grappling showdown. “I was with the [UFC] Fight Pass guys and they were trying to ask me for opponents for [Georges St-Pierre]… And I had no idea who would be [suitable]… Obviously I said Khabib, and I think they said Khabib wanted $5 million to do the grappling match. I was like, woah!” Jones exclaimed.

It is no secret that Nurmagomedov left an indelible mark on mixed martial arts before retiring in 2020, following the tragic passing of his father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. Despite his departure from the competitive scene, the allure of his legacy keeps the rumour mill active. When whispers of a potential super-fight between ‘The Eagle’ and St-Pierre surfaced, it was an echo of unfinished business. Notably, Nurmagomedov had expressed strong interest in facing St-Pierre in a full MMA fight before he put a definitive end to his fighting career. 

The UFC, an organisation boasting a valuation in the realm of $12 billion, seemingly baulked at the idea of acceding to Nurmagomedov’s hefty price tag. Yet, one can only ponder the untapped commercial potential a match of this magnitude could have unleashed, given the stature of both competitors. Adding another layer of intrigue, former UFC welterweight title challenger Demian Maia, revered for his jiu-jitsu prowess, has recently hinted that he might be the one to step up against St-Pierre later this year.

Nurmagomedov’s influence in the world of combat sports isn’t just confined to his own fighting career. After his retirement, he transitioned into coaching and became a part of the coaching ensemble at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), a renowned training centre where he had honed his skills since his U.S. arrival in 2012. He has been a pivotal figure in the corner of his close friend and teammate, Islam Makhachev, especially during Makhachev’s title-winning bout against Charles Oliveira at UFC 280. 

However, another twist in the narrative has emerged. AKA head coach Javier Mendez recently disclosed that Nurmagomedov is likely stepping back from his coaching role. “No I probably don’t think so, I think he has made his [decision]. He doesn’t even want us talking about it, because everybody knows. Unless he changes it from him, you’ll hear it from him. You won’t hear it from me,” Mendez stated unequivocally.

Nurmagomedov himself has been circumspect about the future, often drawing comparisons to NBA legend Michael Jordan for his ability to dominate a sport and subsequently retire at the peak of his powers. In a candid moment, Nurmagomedov shed light on this analogy and his thoughts on a comeback. “First of all, I am not MJ [Michael Jordan],” he clarified in a recent interview with David Patrick-Bet. “And of course, I watched the documentary [‘The Last Dance’], it’s the best I’ve ever watched.”

When probed further about a potential MMA return, he added, “I don’t think so… About a comeback, I am not sure – it doesn’t make sense to me. People want to see this. People want drama, people want the movie to keep continuing. Right now, I am full.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s career trajectory has been nothing short of meteoric. He initially won the vacant lightweight championship in 2018 by defeating Al Iaquinta and subsequently defended it against top-tier fighters like Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. His retirement was announced following a victory via triangle choke submission over Gaethje, unifying the divisional titles and keeping a vow to his mother that he would retire after the fight.

Whether Khabib Nurmagomedov makes a return to either coaching or competition remains to be seen. What is unequivocal, however, is the indelible impact he has left on MMA and the larger world of combat sports. The community remains riveted on his next moves, with the tantalising possibility of a future grappling or MMA return never far from the collective consciousness. But for now, as per Nurmagomedov’s own words, “Right now, I am full.”

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