Getty Images

Khabib Nurmagomedov allegedly received a life-changing phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of UFC 229. UFC president Dana White detailed a call that took place immediately after Nurmagomedov's first UFC lightweight title defense against Conor McGregor.

Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor is the highest-selling pay-per-view in UFC history. Only three boxing fights headlined by Floyd Mayweather Jr. have drawn bigger numbers. All eyes were on UFC 229 on Oct. 6, 2018, including some powerful ones.

"He didn't even make it back to his dressing room after the fight, and Putin was on the phone," White recently told the "Games with Names" podcast. "Putin gave him and his father, like, $20 million worth of property in Russia. Then he went into the Muslim territories where these guys are like, cars, money, gyms, whatever he wanted."

The alleged gifts from Putin went a long way to remedying the $500,000 Nurmagomedov was fined that evening. Nurmagomedov was penalized for leaping into the crowd post-fight and brawling with McGregor's teammate Dillon Danis. The chaos spilled over into the cage and swept up McGregor and Nurmagomedov's teammates in the process.

Nurmagomedov is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with powerful people in Russia. He was once gifted a Mercedes by Putin's ally and Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov. The majority of Nurmagomedov's training camps were also reportedly funded by Russian oligarch Ziyavudin Magomedov, according to Bloody Elbow's Karim Zidan.

Nurmagomedov (29-0) retired two years later as champion after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. Nurmagomedov has stuck to his retirement -- a promise made to his mother following the death of his dad, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov -- despite offers from White. The UFC president suggested it's Nurmagomedov's financial stability that has made the retirement stick.

"Once you get to that level [of Nurmagomedov's fame], it's like what we're dealing with Conor McGregor," White said. "Conor McGregor lives in a yacht in the middle of wherever the warmest place in the world is at that time. Once you get to that level, you're not getting up and getting punched in the face anymore."

More UFC news, rumors

  • What's more likely: Nurmagomedov returning or McGregor vs. Michael Chandler being booked? McGregor vs. Chandler was first teased in February 2023 with no end in sight. Chandler has been sidelined since late 2022 in preparation for the big payday. Some fans think it's a lost cause but Chandler disagrees. "There's a lot of complicated stuff happening behind the scenes..." Chandler told "The MMA Hour" on Wednesday. "This is the fight that is happening. I can't tell you the date. I can't tell you a weight. But I can tell you the fight is happening. I have way too many assurances that this fight is happening to think otherwise."
  • UFC robbed Peter to pay Paul at UFC 300. White recently announced light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill as the main event of UFC 300. The champ expressed a desire to make a three-week turnaround and headline UFC 301 in his home nation of Brazil. It turns out that Rio de Janeiro was the initial plan for Pereira's title defense. "The original verbal agreement, not signed, was to fight at UFC 301 in Brazil," Pereira told "The MMA Hour" through an interpreter. "But a few days ago they called, and my manager called us asking to headline UFC 300. I liked the idea. I think it's perfect timing for me to prepare for it, so I just jumped in." UFC 300 takes place in Las Vegas on April 13. UFC 301 is set for May 4.