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Khabib won’t headline potential UFC Russia: ‘I need to fight on PPV’

Khabib Nurmagomedov explained why he does not plan to fight for the UFC in Russia. 

UFC 205: Weigh-ins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Several months ago, UFC president Dana White announced that the promotion planned to expand into the Russian Federation and mainland China in 2017. Many fans and pundits alike assumed that the UFC would host its inaugural Russian show with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event. Yet according to the lightweight contender, this is far from the actual case.

Speaking at a media scrum to promote UFC 209 last week, Nurmagomedov explained that the Russian market is not built for the UFC’s PPV strategy.

“I don’t think so. Maybe the UFC comes to Russia end of this year, but for PPV show Russia is not very good,” said Khabib. “For PPV show, maybe Madison Square Garden or T-Mobile Arena. But Russia? Maybe UFC make Fight Night in Russia but why I need fight in Fight Nights? I need to fight on PPV?”

Khabib’s comments come on the heels of the UFC’s decision to renegotiate its TV deal in the Russian Federation. As previously reported on BloodyElbow, the promotion has given the TV licensing rights to a third-part local meditator to shop around more lucrative deals. This means the UFC 209 event where Khabib has the opportunity to become the first Russian UFC champion may not air on a Russian broadcast.

UFC 209 takes place March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.