The UFC is actively working toward its first event in Russia and could visit the country in 2018.
According to a report by RT Sport, the UFC has booked Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, an indoor venue, on Sept. 14 and 15 for a potential event.
Officials told ESPN on Friday there is no official event to announce, but confirmed its interest in the market.
“UFC continues to make progress in the Russian market and is actively working on a partnership that could result in the global brand potentially hosting its first-ever event in Russia in 2018,” UFC officials said in a statement.
“As standard operating procedure, UFC strategically holds dates with venues around the world in order to continually develop its brand internationally by bringing fight fans world-class events.”
During an interview with ESPN last month, multiple UFC executives expressed optimism in a potential live event in Russia at some point this year.
The UFC roster features a strong group of athletes from the region, including undefeated lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0). Nurmagomedov is originally from Dagestan and has a significant Russian fan base.
A potential fight between Nurmagomedov and Irish star Conor McGregor (21-3) is one of the best matchups the UFC could make, but it’s premature to link it to a specific date.
The two have gone back and forth on social media in recent weeks, following Nurmagomedov’s lopsided victory over Edson Barboza at UFC 219 on Dec. 30.
“I think the UFC does want that fight because we can make a lot of money in pay-per-view,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN prior to UFC 219. “Of course, Russian people cannot pay $100 for a pay-per-view, but maybe the UFC can make it in Russia for $10. It’s a very big sport in Russia.
“If UFC makes this pay-per-view, 10 million people in Russia will buy it. The UFC has to make business in Russia. Maybe they are waiting for me to take the belt and have me fight Conor in Moscow.”
McGregor’s status is currently up in the air as he renegotiates his contract. UFC president Dana White has stated McGregor may not return to competition until August or September. Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, has stated he wants to fight interim champion Tony Ferguson this spring.
Historically, the UFC has preferred McGregor to fight in Las Vegas. Four of his last five UFC appearances were in Las Vegas, as well as last year’s lucrative boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.