Undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is willing to stick around after all, per an announcement by UFC president Dana White during the ABC broadcast of UFC Fight Island 7 (results HERE).
Khabib, who retired from the sport back in October following the death of his father and eventual submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, confirmed to White during a Friday meeting that he will be willing to return to fighting if next weekend’s UFC 257 PPV card produces something special.
White, who has been aggressively recruiting “Eagle” to fly one more time and try to push his perfect record to 30-0, said the Russian fighter is open to fighting any of the four lightweight fighters competing at UFC 257, which includes Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, and Dan Hooker.
White added that Nurmagomedov was also impressed with the way Charles Oliveira looked against Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 and would be interested in that fight as well.
“His words to me were, ‘I’m gonna watch this fight.’ He said, ‘I would never tie up the division, hold the belt, and keep the belt away from anybody else. If these guys do something spectacular, show me something spectacular, and make me want to come back and fight,’” White said. “So I have the feeling if somebody delivers, it could be on the co-main event or the main event, and he thought Oliveira looked good (vs. Tony Ferguson). … If these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them.”
McGregor, who will be making his first Octagon appearance in over a year next weekend, was hoping to score an eventual rematch against Khabib following their record-breaking meeting at UFC 229 back in 2018. Khabib has been reluctant in entertaining a potential rematch with “Notorious,” but McGregor was hoping a win at UFC 257 would change the Russian’s mind.
UFC 257 takes place on Jan. 23 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Etihad Arena on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, with McGregor vs. Poirier 2 serving as the main event. A lightweight clash between Hooker and former Bellator MMA champion Chandler will be the co-headliner.
What do you think, fight fans? Will Khabib eventually return? Who will he end up fighting?
Let us know in the comments!