Dana White makes it sound so simple. In a conversation with Yahoo Sports, he said he plans to have lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez defend his belt against unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov.
He also wants featherweight champion Conor McGregor to defend his belt against interim champion Jose Aldo.
Nurmagomedov told Yahoo Sports he’d signed two contracts to fight Alvarez: one for UFC 205 in New York in November and another to fight him at UFC 206 in Toronto in December.
Alvarez, though, is still campaigning to fight McGregor, and McGregor, who began the year with the stated goal of winning a world title in a second weight class, has made it seem like he wants Alvarez.
Usually, because he is such a massive draw, whatever McGregor wants, he gets.
Adding further to the confusion of who may fight whom for which title, UFC Tonight reported on Fox Sports 1 that McGregor is injured. That is supposedly why White was pushing an Alvarez-Nurmagomedov fight.
But White said McGregor is not injured and is able to fight.
“Conor’s foot is hurt, but he thinks he can fight,” White said. “I want him to fight Aldo.”
As for the 23-0 Nurmagomedov, White said simply, “He is the No. 1 contender.”
Nurmagomedov reached out to Yahoo Sports to blast Alvarez and make his case for the title shot. He so wants to fight for a belt – any belt – that should challenger Dan Henderson be injured before his middleweight championship fight with Michael Bisping at UFC 204, Nurmagomedov said he would step in to fight Bisping.
“That would be no problem,” Nurmagomedov said.
That’s not happening, perhaps the only thing in this strange saga that we’re sure about. The UFC is holding a news conference in New York on Tuesday to announce the card for UFC 205 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden, and it says only that “The stars of UFC 205” will attend.
Nurmagomedov isn’t going to be there, because the UFC wants him to fight Alvarez in Toronto on Dec. 10.
“Alvarez wants to fight McGregor, because it’s an easy fight and it’s a lot of money to fight him,” Nurmagomedov said. “But he has to fight me. Dana White has told me, ‘He is fighting you. He has to fight you.’ His record is only 2-1 in the UFC and he loses like a chicken to Cowboy [Cerrone]. How did he even get a title shot? I don’t know why he is so scared to fight me.”
Nurmagomedov conceded that Alvarez is a powerful puncher but predicted very precisely that he would submit him in the third round.
Nurmagomedov is 7-0 in the UFC with four submissions.
“I would have to be careful in the first [round] because he does punch hard,” Nurmagomedov said. “In the second, I would start to catch him and in the third, I’d finish him. Mentally, he’s already lost to me.”
Nurmagomedov is so focused on the title that he’s not all that concerned with being on the first UFC card in New York since the state reversed its ban on MMA. He’s pretty much willing to fight Alvarez in his backyard if that’s what it takes.
“I’ve worked for this title my whole life,” he said. “Madison Square Garden is the biggest arena in the world. Of course I would like to fight there. But Congo, Manila, Russia, Canada, Brazil, I don’t care. All I want is 25 minutes in the cage with Alvarez.
“Put me in a cage somewhere with him and lock the door. Then I can show the world who the best really is.”