UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov has revealed his thought process when he was offered a fight against boxing great Floyd Mayweather – and has insisted he is “trying to become a normal human”.
Since retiring following his impressive lightweight title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October 2020, Nurmagomedov has repeatedly been linked with a return to MMA or a lucrative fight with the likes of unbeaten multi-weight world champion Mayweather.
The veteran boxing icon has already taken part in mega-money exhibitions against the likes of UFC star Conor McGregor and YouTuber Logan Paul.
Nurmagomedov says UFC president Dana White, who has attempted to lure him back to the promotion, approached his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, about the potential scrap.
“It was a year ago,” a relaxed and philosophical-seeming Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “Dana asked Ali, ‘why does Khabib never ask me how much money I’m going to give him?’
“It’s very interesting. I told people and they don’t understand me… I don’t know why. Of course, everybody loves money. Money is very important but for myself, this is not everything. I have money – I’m good, you know.
“If god gives me time to spend my money, it’s going to be good for me. Making money is good but how you are going to spend it? That’s the second thing.
“First thing is, I’m finished. Now it’s about how I’m going to spend my money and my time, my fame, everything that god gave me. For life, for your belt, for your position in this life – everything has to end.
“One day, the end is coming. In my life, I have sports but not MMA. Now is for the real life, without cage. With the sport, I am finished. Now, I have my life. I was living the last 32, 33 years inside the cage. Every day and all day I wrestling and sparring. Right now I’m free and I want to live like regular people.”
The Dagestani has been pursuing his business interests since leaving MMA as a competitor, and he admits that trying to combine those with fighting would have been impossible.
One of his projects has been the purchase of the growing Eagle Fighting Championship.
“Inside the cage, if you’re the best, you’re the best. In real life, it’s more difficult,” he said, reiterating his distrust of fame. “I’m trying to be a normal human. I wake up and find myself a celebrity, but I do not agree with it.
“I remember one year ago, end of November, I bought Eagle FC. We have only 12 months. If you want to become big, we need like five, six years.
“We have to do events around the world, like everywhere. We have to sign a lot of fights. It’s too early to talk about competing with some big fish. We’re just beginning, and I’m very excited about this journey.
“I’m going to promote. I’m going to support. I’m going to be there – almost like Dana, but I don’t want to be like Dana with my hair. I want to save my hair.
“I see Dana’s photo when he was just beginning with the UFC, and right now you can see he doesn’t have hair on his head, you know? I don’t want to become like Dana.
“I don’t want to compete with [anyone]. It’s not a secret that UFC is [the] best in the world. Almost 30 years, these guys, the UFC, they’ve been doing great shows around the world. UFC is a very big brand.
“I don’t want to compete with other promotions. I have my view. I have my principles. I have my view, and maybe it’s because this is just beginning.”
Nurmagomedov emphatically dismissed fanciful stories that he had considered becoming a footballer. “It’s fake news; I cannot control fake news, this is one of the most difficult things in my life right now,” he said.
“Anybody can write anything or like or comment. You can read this, it’s impossible. I love football but it’s fake news. If Real Madrid invite me, what can I say? If they invite me to a charity or friendly game, of course I’m going to.
“I love football, it’s the best sport in the world. Nothing gets close. Real Madrid are already smashing everybody: they are the best team in the world since 1998.
“I am a very big fan of Real Madrid. The first time I watched them, I was like ten years old. Thirteen times, they have won the Champions League. No-one is even close.”