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Khabib wants newly-acquired EFC promotion to become ‘launchpad’ into UFC

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

Khabib Nurmagomedov will not be looking to compete with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after acquiring his own MMA promotion, but rather feed the organization top-tier talent.

After retiring from MMA this past October, Khabib has turned his attention to promoting fights, having recently acquired Gorilla Fighting Championship and rebranded it as Eagle Fighting Championships (EFC). It was something that Khabib was planning on doing, but he needed to sit down with UFC president Dana White to discuss a partnership between the two promotions.

“I had this offer to Dana White. I wanted to make a contract with UFC Fight Pass to broadcast EFC fights there,” Khabib told reporters during a recent press conference in Moscow (h/t MMA Junkie). “Kind of like their contract with M-1, but a bit different.”

While the goal of any new fight promotion is to become the biggest in the world, Khabib isn’t trying to compete with UFC. Instead, Nurmagomedov is hoping to turn EFC into a funnel for future UFC champions.

“I wanted to discuss the number of title defenses an EFC fighter needs to get into the UFC,” Nurmagomedov said. “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.”

Nurmagomedov, who has known nothing but perfection throughout his own MMA career, will still be trying to grow EFC to the best of his ability. But considering how massive UFC already is challenging the promotion head-to-head would involve too much money, time, and effort. It’s just not something in Khabib’s short-term plans for his new project.

“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.”

For now, Khabib remains retired and solely focused on his new EFC venture. Despite what White may say about him returning to UFC to go for a 30-0 record, “Eagle” seems permanently landed.

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