Khabib Nurmagomedov is in a position to call his own shots and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) seems more than ready to give him what he wants.
Khabib, who announced his retirement from the sport back in October, spoke with UFC president Dana White earlier this week about his potential return to fighting. White revealed Khabib’s decision during UFC Fight Island 7’s broadcast on ABC earlier today, but it wasn’t quite what fight fans expected.
Instead of confirming his current retirement or return to fighting, White announced that Khabib wants to sit back and wait to see how UFC 257 plays out next weekend on “Fight Island.” The event will be headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2, while Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler holds down the co-main event slot. All four of those lightweights are in play to bring Khabib out of retirement, as well as streaking contender Charles Oliveira. Just one of them have to impress Nurmagomedov enough and the chips will begin to fall.
Despite the outcome of UFC 257 being the biggest factor in Khabib’s decision to come back the undefeated UFC lightweight champion will not be in attendance. White confirmed that “Eagle” will leave “Fight Island” after cornering a teammate on Wednesday’s early morning card on ESPN+ and meet back up with the UFC president in Las Vegas next week.
“He’s cornering on Wednesday and then he leaves,” said White during UFC Fight Island 7’s post-fight press conference (watch it HERE). “He leaves and goes to Vegas. I will have the fight and fly home on Sunday and I’ll see him again in Vegas.
“Those fights will have played out. He and I will hookup for dinner in Vegas and talk again and we’ll make a decision. One thing he did say was, ‘I’ll never hold up the division.’”
White confirmed that his upcoming Vegas meeting with Nurmagomedov will end with a decision on his fighting future. Most believed the UFC president was going to find a way to bring Khabib back after their chat earlier this week on “Fight Island,” but it sounds like the UFC lightweight champion wants to weigh his options.
“He’s either going to fight somebody or walk away,” added White.
For now, Nurmagomedov should be considered retired. Once UFC 257 comes to a close we’ll have a better idea of who could drag the champion back into the cage. McGregor seems to be the front-runner at this time given their history and the Irishman’s ability to pull off the impossible, but he’s on the bottom of Khabib’s list so it’s too hard to predict.
For more UFC 257 fight card news click here.