It appears reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov may be returning to the Octagon sooner than expected.
After the passing of Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, earlier this month due to COVID-19 complications, fight fans weren’t sure when the UFC champ would return to action. Khabib’s father was a tremendous inspiration throughout his career and nobody was going to limit the time Nurmagomedov could mourn his loss. UFC president Dana White even said earlier this week that he’s leaving Khabib alone until he’s ready to discuss his return.
Luckily for fight fans, it seems as if Khabib is ready to plan his upcoming lightweight title fight opposite interim champion Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, confirmed in a recent interview with TMZ Sports (shown above) that Khabib is in talks with UFC to schedule a date for the anticipated title unification bout.
“Khabib is not retiring,” said Abdelaziz. “Khabib has some goals to accomplish. You will see him before the end of the year. Now him and Dana are talking and me talking to the matchmaker and we are trying to set a date. I’m sure Dana is going to let everybody know when Khabib is going to fight.”
Nurmagomedov, 31, is coming off a submission win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 last September to defend his lightweight title for the second-straight time. The undefeated Russian champion was expected to finally meet Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 this past May but COVID-19 travel restrictions iced that matchup for a fifth time. Khabib was replaced by Gaethje, who defeated “El Cucuy” in dominant fashion, and the rest his history.
“We have a blockbuster main event against Justin Gaethje,” said Abdelaziz. “Two of the best lightweight in the world today in the recent era. We’ve seen what Khabib does to all of his opponents. We’ve seen what Justin Gaehtje did to his last opponent. He made him look like an absolute amateur and that’s the best two guys in the world. They are going to fight.”
The lightweight title fight was originally scheduled for UFC 253 this September, but that is unlikely to happen given the recent loss for Khabib. Instead, “Eagle” and “Highlight” are more likely to collide towards the end of 2020.
“You will see Khabib and Justin fight before the end of the year for sure,” said Abdelaziz.