SINGAPORE - Homegrown mixed martial arts organisation One Championship will host MMA royalty on Jan 14, with Khabib Nurmagomedov set to attend its Heavy Hitters event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Nurmagomedov, 33, retired in October 2020 as the lightweight champion of US-based MMA giant Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The Russian called time on his career with a perfect record of 29 wins, including one over Conor McGregor, the brash Irishman regarded by many as the biggest superstar the sport has ever produced.
Nurmagomedov will be in Singapore to be in the corner of compatriot Saygid Izagakhmaev, 27, who will be making his One Championship debut having racked up a record of 19 wins and two losses.
Many of those came under the Eagle Fighting Championship, the MMA organisation owned by Nurmagomedov.
"I've never been in this beautiful country and it's going to be my first time," Nurmagomedov told One Championship ahead of his trip to Singapore.
"I'm very excited about this trip. I've been almost everywhere around the world and Singapore is one of the places where I want to go. Of course, in shaa Allah (God willing), I am going to be there."
Izagakhmaev will take on American fighter James Nakashima (12 wins, two losses), who unsuccessfully challenged for One's welterweight (under 84kg) championship in 2020.
Nurmagomedov said Izagakhmaev began training with him and his late father almost 15 years ago, and described him as "very focused and a hard trainer".
He added: "We have a similar fighting style because we trained together a long time, grappling, wrestling, how we move and use our body, our hips and legs on the ground.
"But (Izagakhmaev) is a little bit taller than me and he has good Thai boxing technique, with elbows and knee. So he's a little bit different from me."
Nurmagomedov predicted a dominant victory for his compatriot come Jan 14, believing the fight will not last the three full rounds.
"Nakashima is a good fighter, I have watched a few of his fights, but I don't think he can control (Izagakhmaev) in wrestling," he said.
"We have a good plan - we're going to defend his wrestling and we're going to give him some damage. I really believe Saygid can finish him."
Nurmagomedov is not the only MMA icon to visit Singapore. Canadian Georges St. Pierre, often in the conversation as one of the greatest of all time, has also been here several times at the invitation of Evolve MMA, the gym owned by One founder and chief executive officer Chatri Sityodtong.
One's Heavy Hitters event will be headlined by Chinese fighter Xiong Jingnan, who will defend her women's strawweight (U-57kg) world title against Ayaka Miura of Japan.
On the lead card, Singapore's Tiffany Teo will also be in action in a women's strawweight bout against Meng Bo of China.