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Khabib launches Eagle Fighting Championships, hopes to strike deal with UFC

Khabib Nurmagomedov wants Eagle Fighting Championships to partner with the UFC.

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Russian mixed martial artist Nurmagomedov arrives in Makhachkala after fight with Gaethje Photo by Press Office of the Head of the \TASS via Getty Images

Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially made the transition from MMA fighter to MMA promoter, as ‘The Eagle’ recently unveiled his brand new MMA promotion, Eagle Fighting Championships (EFC), at a press conference in Moscow, Russia earlier this week.

As well as his ambitious plan to get MMA into the Olympics by 2028, Nurmagomedov wants his organization to serve as a feeder league for the UFC, where his best fighters will sign with the premiere fight promotion after racking up a few title defenses in EFC.

“I had this offer to Dana White,” Nurmagomedov said in Russian (translation courtesy of RT Sport). “I wanted to make a contract with UFC Fight Pass, to broadcast EFC fights there, kind of like their contract with M-1 but a bit different.”

“I wanted to discuss the number of title defenses an EFC fighter needs to get into the UFC. When we sign fighters, we would like the organization to follow them into the UFC. For example, a guy signs for six fights. If he wins and defends his title a few times, we’ll get him a UFC contract, then after he signs we’ll handle his affairs.

“It’s no secret everyone wants to get into the UFC. Other promotions want their fighters to stay. I don’t want that. I want EFC to be a launchpad into the world stage.”

In the long term, however, Nurmagomedov believes EFC will become one of the biggest MMA promotions in the world and a possible rival to the UFC.

“We need at least 10 years to be better than UFC, so we don’t have those goals,” Nurmagomedov said. “A 23-year-old fighter can have six, seven fights, win the title and defend it, then sign with the UFC in just two years.

“That’s a more realistic short-term goal than looking ahead 10 to 12 years just for a chance to become the best promotion in the world. But we do aim to become one of the best in the world.”

Nurmagomedov retired following his submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, which saw Khabib retain his lightweight title and extend his record to 29-0. The undefeated Dagestani is widely considered one of the greatest fighters of all time.