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Khabib Nurmagomedov won’t retire after UFC 254, says Dana White promised ‘something special’ next

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While Khabib is keeping his eye firmly on challenger Justin Gaethje, he did tease ‘very big things after this fight.’

UFC 253 Dawodu v Tukhugov Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Khabib Nurmagomedov has never been a particularly chippy interview, but during today’s UFC 254 virtual media day he seemed particularly sick and tired of dealing with the press. And it didn’t take long to figure out why. While the first few questions focused on Justin Gaethje, his opponent for Oct. 24, 2020, the inevitable questions regarding the recent death of his father to COVID-19 came.

“How difficult was it to prepare for the fight knowing he’s not going to be in your corner?”

“I don’t understand when people ask me this, ‘How difficult for you to train without father?’” Khabib said after a sigh. “Of course this is difficult. I don’t understand why you guys keep asking me this. This is very difficult. You have your father? Do you have father? If something happen to him, what do you think? Is it going to be difficult for you or easy? Yes. I am human too. Of course it is very difficult.”

We imagine some variation of this question has been thrown Khabib’s way repeatedly since Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s passing at the start of July. And now Khabib is completely done with it. Note to reporters: don’t ask him about it any more. It’s not okay.

So while Khabib may be tired of that question, and maybe tired from an extremely long training camp and tired from whatever crazy timezone bubble the UFC has created on Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island, don’t assume that means he’s tired of fighting. When asked about whether he was thinking about retirement, Khabib said no.

“I don’t think. I don’t think,” he said. “We have couple options, we’re going to think about this after fight. And Dana told me after this fight he has something special for me. But I told him, please keep this, after fight we’re going to talk. He said he has very big things after this fight for me. We’ll see.”

Of course, what Dana White considers special and very big probably differs from Khabib. Nurmagomedov has made it pretty clear he’d like to fight Georges St-Pierre. Dana White? White continues to offer up a stunning variety of options: Conor McGregor, Conor McGregor, or how about Conor McGregor? Most recently, it was ... Conor McGregor! But after several weeks of coaching alongside Conor McGregor on a revival of The Ultimate Fighter.

Khabib’s answer to that, according to his manager? “You can forget about the rematch. It’s done, dead, never.”

During the virtual media day, Nurmagomedov wouldn’t even entertain discussion about McGregor or the news about the UFC offering him McGregor via TUF.

“Right now, I’m focused on Justin Gaethje, October 24th,” he said. “I am focused on him. I don’t want to underestimate this guy. Justin is a very tough opponent, very tough guy. He follow his dream. He’s very hungry. He just beat a very tough opponent. I don’t want to underestimate him. I am focused on Oct. 24.”

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 254: “Khabib vs. Gaethje” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.