Khabib Nurmagomedov’s decision to retire following his UFC 254 win over Justin Gaethje has left the lightweight belt up for grabs. As you may expect, bitter rival Conor McGregor was quick to respond on Twitter.
The former two-division champion praised Khabib for his performance, expressed condolences again for the passing of his father and trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, and also sprinkled in, “I will carry on.”
Good performance @TeamKhabib.
I will carry on.
Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family.
Yours sincerely, The McGregors.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 24, 2020
McGregor famously lost to Khabib at UFC 229 back in 2018, after which Nurmagomedov leaped out of the cage and caused a post-fight melee. Prior to Gaethje’s opening round at UFC 254, McGregor was the only fighter to have ever taken a round off of Khabib in the UFC, but he still was never close to winning and tapped to a neck crank in the fourth round.
Conor has been angling for a rematch since then, but Nurmagomedov’s retirement surely puts that to bed. Instead, he’s in line to have a rematch with Dustin Poirier on January 23rd. If there’s anything positive in McGregor’s favor to come out of Khabib’s retirement, it’s… well… Khabib’s retirement. The belt should be officially vacant soon, and McGregor vs. Poirier 2 could conceivably be for that title instead of a de factor #1 contender matchup. Dana White did not say anything about what the plans are for the lightweight division during his post-fight press conference, so I suppose we’ll see.
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