Dagestani MMA fighter surprisingly vacates title in Khabib Nurmagomedov-owned Eagle FC to switch to PFL

Khabib Nurmagomedov [Image Courtesy: @khabib_nurmagomedov , @pflmma and @eaglefcmma on Instagram]
Khabib Nurmagomedov [Image Courtesy: @khabib_nurmagomedov, @pflmma and @eaglefcmma on Instagram]

Khabib Nurmagomedov lost the services of Rizvan Kuniev in the Eagle Fighting Championship (Eagle FC), which means the MMA promotion currently lacks a heavyweight champion as Kuniev vacated the title to join the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

Kuniev may be best known for his appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2021, earning a TKO win. However, he returned to Eagle FC after not being able to secure a deal with the UFC. Most recently, he defeated Anthony Hamilton via first-round submission to defend his heavyweight title at Eagle FC 46.

🚨| Rizvan Kuniev has vacated the Eagle FC heavyweight title and has signed a deal with the PFL ahead of the 2023 season.#EagleFC #PFL #MMA

Kuniev's switch to the PFL is understandable considering the prize money involved in the promotion. Most recently, former UFC middleweight Rob Wilkinson won the 2022 PFL light heavyweight championship and walked away with $1 million. Several other fighters like Brendan Loughnane and Shane Burgos have joined the league-based MMA promotion in search of better financial opportunities.

However, it seems Khabib Nurmagomedov harbors no ill will towards the former Eagle FC heavyweight champion. The promotion posted a message of appreciation on Instagram for his achievements and wished him all the best.

'The Eagle' established Eagle FC in 2020 after he purchased the Gorilla Fighting Championship and renamed it.

When Khabib Nurmagomedov spoke about his three dream opponents

Khabib Nurmagomedov stated that despite his illustrious career in the UFC, he wished he could've competed in three fights – Tony Ferguson, Georges St-Pierre, and Anthony Pettis.

During an interview for Class A Events at Meridian Hall in Toronto on November 20, the undefeated former UFC lightweight champion was asked about fighters he wished he could've fought during his time in combat sports.

Nurmagomedov replied that the one fight that got away was the obvious one against Tony Ferguson, which was canceled five times for unavoidable reasons:

"Of course it was Tony Ferguson for sure. But this has never happened."

Nurmagomedov added that there were two other fighters he would have loved to face. 'The Eagle' mentioned a person he greatly respects – former two-division champion and one of the greatest fighters of all time, Georges St-Pierre:

"Okay GSP, if you guys want but I respect this guy a lot you know. It's like I grew up with his fights, you know? When he became UFC champion 2007 and I was like... I was amateur fighter and I watched a lot his fights with my father. And you know, it's like... GSP was like role model in MMA for me."

Khabib Nurmagomedov also added former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis to his wishlist, stating that he really wanted to face 'Showtime' in 2014-15 when the American was a UFC champion.

Watch Khabib Nurmagomedov's full interview below:


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Edited by Aziel Karthak
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