Alexander Shabliy ‘not fully sure’ Usman Nurmagomedov fight happening, still awaiting contract and terms from PFL

Alexander Shabliy already began his training camp to prepare for a May 17 showdown with Bellator lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov, but he has growing concerns about whether or not the fight is actually happening.

Despite a prominent announcement from the promotion, Shabliy says he still hasn’t received a bout agreement for the fight, much less any conversation with Bellator’s new owners at the PFL about the potential terms for the matchup. Beyond the title, Shabliy also views his fight with Nurmagomedov as the de facto finals to the Bellator lightweight grand prix that never concluded before the company sold to PFL just before the end of 2023.

The winner of that tournament was not only supposed to be crowned as the Bellator lightweight grand prix champion, but there was a $1 million prize also up for grabs.

“I’ve been doing training camp in my hometown and now I’m flying out to my main camp,” Shabliy told MMA Fighting through a translator. “We’re going to be working hard. The only problem right now is I’m not fully sure the fight is actually going to happen. Because the fight was announced, it’s been on the official [homepage] of Bellator, but they still haven’t sent me the contract.

“I hope it’s happening, but as of now, it still hasn’t been finalized.”

Currently riding a nine-fight win streak, including a victory over ex-Bellator lightweight champion Patricky Pitbull in his last outing, Shabliy was very excited for the opportunity to cap off the tournament with a chance to become Bellator champion and earn life-changing money.

He claims there’s been radio silence from PFL since the announcement about his fight was made, which only leaves him confused about what’s actually happening behind the scenes.

“Of course, it’s disappointing because the fight is announced but the contract is not there,” Shabliy said. “I don’t know whether they’re going to follow through on all the conditions. It should be the grand prix, it should be good prize money. I hope the league is following through on a promised grand prix outcome.

“Right now, I did the interview last week and we still didn’t receive any answer. We haven’t received the finalized contract. Even my manager is in touch with Mike Kogan and there are still certain questions they do not answer to us in the air. So yes, I am disappointed about that.”

Shabliy previously stated that he wanted PFL to honor the terms of the Bellator lightweight grand prix, which meant paying out the $1 million prize to the eventual winner. He expected saying that so publicly would pry an answer out of the promotion, but he says he still hasn’t heard anything.

With the fight less than two months away, Shabliy will still act in good faith by preparing for a clash with Nurmagomedov, but he hopes PFL will reach out sooner rather than later.

“I was hoping somebody was going to reach out after that [interview], but as of now, I haven’t heard from anybody,” Shabliy said. “I’m still very uncertain. I don’t know how PFL is trying and announcing they might want to sign up [Conor] McGregor or Jon Jones, but they’re still not following through with the obligations of the current people that they have on their roster. I hope they really take care of that.”

“Of course I get distracted by the whole situation because I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Yes, it’s a great fight. I’m looking forward to fighting Usman Nurmagomedov. It’s been a great fight in the making and the whole grand prix had been going great for me. But right now, there is a lot of uncertainty, even what’s going to happen after this fight.”

When PFL bought Bellator, much of the same team involved with the promotion were brought over to maintain stability under the new ownership structure.

Unfortunately, Shabliy hasn’t felt the same level of trust with the new leadership as he once had with the previous owners at Bellator.

“Within Bellator, it was going great,” Shabliy said. “When we were sitting down with Mike Kogan, when you sit down and shake hands, you knew the outcome. If Mike said something, he followed through. Now with PFL, we don’t whether our guarantees are going to be provided.

“After the fight, let’s say we finish the fight, now [I’m] Bellator champion — it’s a big story back in Bellator, but what’s going to be happening now? The person is going to win the belt and then are we going to fight the champion of the PFL? What’s coming next for us? It’s still unclear. So I hope they are going to provide us answers.”

Shabliy doesn’t plan on slowing down because he’s maintaining confidence that PFL will eventually follow through with promises made by the previous Bellator regime.

He’d rather just stay focused on training and preparing to become Bellator lightweight champion, but he can’t ignore the reality of the situation where there are still just too many unknowns ahead of him.

“My goal is to become a champion and also to get that million dollars with the belt,” Shabliy said. “Because, again, my understanding is if one league buys out another league, they have to also go through with all the obligations that they purchased with that league. So I do hope they are going to follow through and they’re going to make it right by us with that fight.”