Will Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Tax Debt Lead to a UFC Return? 3 Possible Opponents for ‘The Eagle’ Including Conor McGregor

khabib nurmagomedov
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Khabib Nurmagomedov might be in hot water over unpaid taxes.

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According to several reports, the Russian Federal Tax Service has the spotlight on the former UFC lightweight champion after uncovering discrepancies in several of his businesses. Authorities allege that Khabib Nurmagomedov used the untaxed money to fund investments in other countries. 

The investigation has resulted in multiple bank accounts, including those for his Eagle FC promotion, to be frozen. Khabib Nurmagomedov is also reportedly on the hook for approximately 300 million rubles (roughly $3.3 million by the current conversion rate.)

Khabib Nurmagomedov, who became one of the UFC’s most bankable names on the heels of his heated rivalry with Conor McGregor, retired as an undefeated champion immediately after his third title defense at UFC 254.

UFC CEO Dana White very publicly, and privately, courted “The Eagle” for a triumphant return to the Octagon in the months following his sudden retirement. However, Nurmagomedov remained steadfast in his decision and transitioned to coaching fighters like current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

However, Nurmagomedov’s alleged tax debt and the UFC parent company TKO’s investment in the Middle Eastern market in which he enjoys fan favorite status have led to increased speculation about a possible return.

Here are three opponents that could welcome “The Eagle” back to competition.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor

khabib nurmagomedov
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Redoing the biggest pay-per-view success in MMA history is a no brainer. After Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the main event of UFC 229 to tune of a reported 2.4 million buys, the promotion would undoubtedly love to repeat that financial win. 

Also Read: Conor McGregor next fight: ‘Notorious’ set to make long-awaited return in June

For his part, McGregor has repeatedly called for a rematch and would most likely be happy to lean back into the bad blood that culminated in an infamous post-fight brawl. While Nurmagomedov has been less receptive to the idea, if the objective is to make as much money as possible, this is the way to go. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Leon Edwards

leon edwards
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Since Nurmagomedov never lost his belt in the cage, it only makes sense that his return would be a title opportunity. But with his friend and protege holding the strap at lightweight, a move to welterweight to challenge Leon Edwards would be the next best thing. 

Rumors swirled around the two meeting in the main event for UFC 300. While the talk ultimately proved fruitless, the lack of interest in a Belal Muhammad fight makes this a very real possibility. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Max Holloway

max holloway
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While we may have missed out on possible fight with Georges St. Pierre, perhaps Max Holloway could serve as a suitable placeholder. After his stunning knockout of Justin Gaethje at UFC 300, Holloway’s stock has never been higher post his run as featherweight champion. 

A fight between the former belt holders could serve as a fitting continuation of the symbolic BMF legacy and make good on the canceled UFC 223 main event.

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Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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