Khabib Nurmagomedov is still without an opponent for UFC 170, and as time dwindles down and the card approaches, it’s becoming more apparent that the undefeated UFC prospect may not end up competing on the Feb 22 show.
The original fight that was announced was Nurmagomedov taking on Gilbert Melendez, and the promotion went as far as putting the fighter’s images and names on the original poster for the event. Just days later, however, UFC president Dana White confirmed with FOX Sports that the fight was scrapped and they were moving onto a new bout.
Since that time, it seems Nurmagomedov has been offered up to a few different opponents with no one taking the bait thus far to accept the fight. The frustration even led White to speculate point blank on Twitter - "nobody wants to fight Khabib."
The UFC president went one step further by naming names and saying that former Ultimate Fighter winner Nate Diaz was offered the fight against Nurmagomedov but turned it down. It didn’t take Diaz long to respond with his own answer to White’s challenge saying, "Dana White, UFC are full of s**t. I didn’t turn down anything."
On Sunday, Diaz’s manager Mike Kogan spoke to FOX Sports to explain what exactly went down between his client and the offer made by the UFC for him to fight Nurmagomedov at UFC 170.
"We asked for Nate’s contract to be redone. The UFC turned it down," Kogan said. "We asked for a change to his contract, and changes to when the fight takes place. They said no and we said no thanks."
Kogan was none too happy that this entire situation spilled out onto Twitter, which made it seem as if Diaz was somehow ducking a fight with Nurmagomedov. Diaz’s manager explains the truth is much different than a few exchanges via social networking.
"This is supposed to be a professional sport, but then this resorts to these Twitter wars," Kogan said. "This isn’t a street fight, it’s a professional sport. If it’s a street fight and they want to see who the better man is they know where the f**k Nate is, and then we can see who is the better man."
Kogan went onto state that just simply saying Diaz turned down the fight isn’t telling the whole story. He related this situation to the same kind of contract negotiation that happened for years between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao when the two sides were unable to come to an agreement over a number of issues including splits in pay-per-view profits as well as drug testing protocols.
Kogan says emphatically that the boxing world knew neither Mayweather or Pacquiao were scared to fight each other, but in professional sports contract negotiations are part of getting a deal done. He chalks this latest brush up to a "business decision" and nothing more.
As far as Diaz somehow being afraid to fight Nurmagomedov, Kogan laughs off that notion. Looking at his record, Diaz has faced a murderer’s row of talent at both lightweight and welterweight and while he insists they have nothing but respect for the skills of Nurmagomedov, no one is running scared.
"Who is scared? Why would they be scared?" Kogan asked. "That’s bulls**t. Nobody is scared to fight him."
While it appears Diaz won’t be facing Nurmagomedov at UFC 170, if the Russian stays on the card, recent UFC 168 winner Michael Johnson has thrown his hat into the ring as a possible opponent for the Feb 22 card.