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Russia’s ex-UFC champ Nurmagomedov declines to train Musk for MMA bout against Zuckerberg

Information about the bout between the two Internet moguls in the United States went viral on social media early this summer

MOSCOW, August 4. /TASS/. Russia’s undefeated former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov declined a request to train US-based billionaire and celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk for a mooted bout against Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Meta (prohibited in Russia as extremist), a source close to the situation told TASS on Friday.

The New York Times reported earlier that Musk and Zuckerberg were holding talks about a potential mixed martial arts (MMA) match-up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

"Elon Musk wanted Khabib Nurmagomedov to help him prepare for the fight against Zuckerberg. However, Khabib declined this proposal and we do not know the reasons [for his refusal]," the source said, adding that UFC Eurasia Director General Andrey Gromkovsky was in charge of organizing this project.

Russian fight promoter Vladimir Khryunov told TASS later in the day that he respected Nurmagomedov’s decision not to train Musk.

"Khabib is a man of his own convictions and obviously treats what he has dedicated his life to very faithfully," Khryunov said in an interview with TASS. "It’s about his vision and the integrity of the sport and life in general."

"This is why I believe he made the right decision, much respect to Khabib," Khryunov added.

Reached by a TASS correspondent later in the day, Russia’s US-born mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Jeff Monson also voiced support to Nurmagomedov’s decision against training Elon Musk.

"I support Khabib’s refusal to train Musk," Monson told TASS. "I’ve never seen Elon [Musk] supporting Russia."

"I would have also turned down such request if I received one," Monson added.

Jeffrey William Monson, 52, nicknamed "The Snowman," hails from the US state of Minnesota. As a mixed martial arts fighter, he has 85 fights to his name, chalking up 60 wins. He is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion. The American fighter was granted Russian citizenship in May 2018 and in September of that year he was elected to the Council of Deputies (City Council) of the Krasnogorsk District, Moscow Region, an inner suburb of the neighboring City of Moscow.

Information about the bout between the two Internet moguls in the United States went viral on social media early this summer after Zuckerberg announced a decision to launch Meta’s own text-based social media app, dubbed Project 92, to compete with the X social network (formerly known as Twitter).

On June 22, Zuckerberg accepted Musk’s challenge to square off in the MMA octagon in Las Vegas. Although weighing in at just 154 pounds, the 39-year-old Zuckerberg was reported earlier to be training in MMA and has also won a number of Jiu-Jitsu belts this year.

Elon Musk’s mother, Maye Musk, announced the following day that she put the kibosh on her son’s MMA bout. US celebrity entrepreneur and billionaire Musk reacted to his mother’s Tweet about the fight with a smiley face emoji.

UFC chief Dana White believes that the fight between Musk and Zuckerberg will eventually be organized and will be the most-viewed bout in the history of the sport.

Musk announced on June 29 that the bout could be hosted by the Roman Colosseum. The TMZ web portal said, citing sources, that the Italian Ministry of Culture allegedly offered the Colosseum arena for the brawl. However, a spokesman for the ancient monument and museum in the Italian capital told TASS later that these reports were not true.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Russia’s former UFC Lightweight Champion, Nurmagomedov, who announced his retirement almost two years ago, was the first Russian ever to win a UFC (the Ultimate Fighting Championship) title belt when he smashed US opponent Al Iaquinta in the spring of 2018.

The 34-year-old Russian fighter, nicknamed "The Eagle," was undefeated in 29 fights during his mixed martial arts career, winning 8 times by KO, 11 by submission and 10 by decision.

He announced his retirement on October 24, 2020, right after defeating Justin Gaethje of the United States with a (triangle choke) technical submission.

The UFC (the Ultimate Fighting Championship) is the largest MMA (mixed martial arts) promotion event around the globe featuring the world’s most elite fighters. A number of Russian fighters have stepped into the octagon at UFC events.