Khabib Targeting Georges St-Pierre Fight After Justin Gaethje Bout at UFC 254

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2020

Russian UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov gestures to the crowd during an open training session at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Fighters Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov will face each other in UFC 242, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Abu Dhabi. Nurmagomedov did not spar during the open training, saying he was still trying to make weight for the bout. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Jon Gambrell/Associated Press

Khabib Nurmagomedov still has to dispatch Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Saturday, but he's already setting his sights on his next fight. 

The UFC lightweight champion said Tuesday on ESPN's First Take that he'd relish the opportunity to oppose 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Georges St-Pierre.

"I really become excited when I think about Georges St-Pierre," he said. "I don't know if he wants to fight with me or not, can he make weight—155 or not—but this fight makes me excited, honestly.

"And I think me vs. Georges is going to be very, very big fight. Like big fight for fans, big fight for pay-per-view, big fight for analytics, for everybody. This is only fight in UFC, after Gaethje, that makes me very excited."

Conor McGregor announced he has accepted a fight with Dustin Poirier for Jan. 23.

Poirier is the No. 2-ranked lightweight challenger, and McGregor is one of the biggest stars in UFC. The winner of their encounter could be the next in line for the current champion.

Nurmagomedov has wins over both fighters, though, and he said on First Take he has little interest in any rematches:

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St-Pierre hasn't fought since beating Michael Bisping by third-round submission in November 2017, and that was his first bout since stepping away from MMA in 2013. The 39-year-old is widely regarded as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters ever, so he has nothing left to prove inside the cage.

Still, St-Pierre told ESPN's Marc Raimondi that a bout with Nurmagomedov could coax him out of retirement:

"If I ever come back, I'm not coming back for many fights. If I come back, it would be for one fight. And I need to take, for me, the biggest fish. And the one—for me, I believe—the top guy right now, the name is Khabib. As a fighter, the most exciting thing is to take the guy who seems invincible, unbeatable. He has the aura of invincibility. But it's also the scariest thing to do."

There's probably no bigger money fight in UFC than Khabib vs. McGregor right now. The 2.4 million pay-per-view buys for UFC 229 were the most ever for the company.

However, Nurmagomedov has said at every turn he doesn't want to fight McGregor again, which isn't too surprising given how personal the buildup to their 2018 matchup became.

St-Pierre would undoubtedly supply UFC with the kind of headliner who attracts not only diehard fans but also more casual observers of the sport. Because of his lengthy layoff and lack of experience at the 155-pound lightweight limit, the odds of him actually opposing Khabib are probably slim.