It has been more than a year since UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.
Nurmagomedov bowed out well on top in October last year, defending the lightweight championship for the third time against Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi, to take his undefeated record to 29-0.
But even with the magical 30-win milestone staring him in the face, the 33-year-old was content to end a career that will not only ensure he goes down as one of the greatest fighters to ever walk the planet but also arguably the greatest lightweight of all-time.
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However, rather than sit idle in his native Dagestan and count his millions of dollars, Nurmagomedov was quick to enter the next phase of his career as an MMA promoter.
Little over a month after submitting Gaethje with a triangle choke, the UFC’s longest-reigning lightweight champion purchased Russian MMA promotion Gorilla Fighting Championship, and rebranded it Eagle Fighting Championship after his nickname “The Eagle”.
And just 12 months after Nurmagomedov took over the promotion, Eagle FC is preparing for its American debut next month in Miami.
To help with its push into the US, former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will reportedly end his three-year retirement to fight at the Eagle FC 44 event on January 28.
Nurmagomedov was hopeful that the Miami event will be just the first of many Eagle FC events to be staged in America.
“If you want to become big in MMA, you have to be in USA,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN.
“For fighters, for promotion, you have to be in US. If you’re not in US, you can never become No.1 or best. It’s almost impossible.”
Evans pulled the pin on his professional MMA career in 2018 after losing his fifth fight in a row to Anthony Smith via knockout inside just 53 seconds at UFC 225 in Chicago.
The 42-year-old UFC Hall of Famer hasn’t won a fight in eight years and lost seven of his last nine bouts – a skid which began when he lost to Jon Jones in 2012 in a light heavyweight championship match.
But, according to Yahoo Sports, Evans will be hoping to end that long drought in early 2022.
It’s unclear as to who Evans’ opponent will be at this stage, but it will be a light heavyweight fight. The Ultimate Fighter season two winner fought at middleweight in his third- and second-last fights against Daniel Kelly and Sam Alvey respectively.
Eagle FC 44 is set to be headlined by a fight between Antonio Silva and Tyrone Spong in the heavyweight division.