The UFC looks set to hold their first ever event in Russia later this year, after reports emerged from local news agency Russia Today that the oraganisation has finalized details of reserving a date in one of the biggest arenas in the capital city of Moscow.
It was confirmed by staff at the Olympiyskiy Stadium when questioned by Denis Geyko of RT.com that the UFC have reserved the venue for the dates of September 14th and 15th — a Friday and Saturday to facilitate the weigh-ins and ancillary events, as well as the event itself on the Saturday.
The Olympiyskiy Stadium has a capacity of 35,000. The news has not yet been formally announced by the UFC.
This will make for interesting news for several members of the UFC roster. UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, undoubtedly the biggest mixed martial arts star to come from Russia, is a prime candidate to headline the card. As well as Nurmagomedov, several other fighters from the region will likely attempt to secure a spot on the historic card, like Zabit Magomedsharipov, Rustam Khabilov, Mairbek Taisumov and, of course, ‘The Russian Hammer’ Artem Lobov.
Nurmagomedov recently made a return to UFC competition after more than a year on the sidelines, where he earned a lob-sided decision win against Edson Barboza at UFC 219.
The Russian, who along with Tony Ferguson is leading the pack of contenders to face Conor McGregor for the 155-pound title, is expected to face Tony Ferguson next, as his coach and father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov stated to RT.
“Most likely, this event is going to be connected with us,” he said. “We will fight in April first with Tony Ferguson, and then we will receive a date for a fight with McGregor.
“Although I can’t exclude the possibility they will make us wait for Ferguson until September, and there won’t be an April fight. We have many good fighters who can fill the arena – Alexander Volkov, Gadzhimurad Antigulov, Mairbek Taisumov. Fans love Zabit Magomedsharipov now. Rustam Khabilov and Islam Makhachev can also join. Many (fighters) will want to perform both in the UFC and at home at the same time. Plus it’s very interesting for (Russian) fans.”
Previously, Conor McGregor has stated his desire to face Nurmagomedov in Russia, at least according to Dana White.
““You know what Conor told me? He said, ‘I want Khabib in Russia,” White said to MMAJunkie.