UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov said he wants to fight lightweight champion Conor McGregor and would be willing to do so for free.
Nurmagomedov spoke to TMZ Sports and was asked what figure it would take for him to accept a fight with McGregor. He replied: "Zero. I don't need money, I need only real fights, fights for the title. I don't fight for the money. I fight for my legacy, I fight for history, I fight for my people, that's why I'm here."
McGregor, whose last foray into the UFC was in November 2016, stoked the fires when he criticised Nurmagomedov on Twitter after his Performance of the Night, unanimous-decision victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 219 (warning: contains profanity):
The tweet has sparked a war of words between the two (warning: contains profanity):
Nurmagomedov also responded to McGregor's initial comment, which referred to his native Dagestan in Russia, while speaking to TMZ: "From Dagestan we have more than 15 fighters in UFC, and we have more victories than Irish fighters."
He added on the Irishman: "Now everybody forgets about him because he doesn't want a real fight. He fights only with 45 years old Floyd Mayweather or marijuana guy who's lost 10 times...Nate Diaz. This is crazy, he has to defend his belt."
The Eagle has a 25-0 record in MMA, putting him firmly among the strongest opponents McGregor could defend his lightweight title against, along with interim champion Tony Ferguson.
UFC heavyweight Chase Sherman believes a fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov would only go one way:
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden disagrees, however:
It would be a mouthwatering tilt.
McGregor would also have the added challenge of coming into the Octagon after more than a year without an MMA fight, as his only bout in 2017 was his boxing match with Mayweather.
Nurmagomedov may be happy to take on the Notorious for free, but given the interest the contest would undoubtedly attract, it could also prove a lucrative venture for both fighters.