The mess atop the UFC’s deepest division continues. Following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s surprise retirement announcement back in October of last year, Dana White has done everything he possibly could to muddy the waters as to whether or not one of the promotion’s leading stars had truly decided to walk away.
Fans were supposed to get something like a definitive answer back in January, when the UFC hit Abu Dhabi for another ‘Fight Island’ stint and Dana White got his first chance to sit down and really hash things out with the longtime AKA talent. Instead, White punted on the decision, telling fans that Khabib would wait for UFC 257 to see if anything piqued his interest in a return. But, Conor McGregor didn’t win, and the last hope the UFC president had for dangling a carrot out in front of Nurmagomedov fell by the wayside.
It’s little surprise, then that Nurmagomedov is now saying publicly that the division he reigned over for the past couple years needs to move on without him. And in his opinion, the best man to helm that effort is former interim champion and title challenger Dustin Poirier. In a recent interview with Match TV, Nurmagomedov spoke about his fighting future, and the lightweight title picture (transcript via RT Sport).
“Poirier deserves to be champion, that’s my personal opinion,” Nurmagomedov revealed during the interview. “Look at who he’s fought. Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. He’s fought me, Conor – these are all top fighters, maybe fighters who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame.”
In an interview with Match TV, UFC Champ Khabib Nurmagomedov revealed he scheduled a new meeting with Dana White at the end of this month.
— Bruno Massami (Бруно Массами) (@BrMassami) February 9, 2021
Alongside that opinion, however, the unbeaten 32-year-old dropped a few facts as well. While he noted that he and the UFC boss have another meeting scheduled for February, the bigger news was that Nurmagomedov has heard that the UFC is planning a lightweight title fight for sometime in late spring or early summer.
“I know they’re already making plans, I think for around May or June for a title fight. But between who? Dana told me he isn’t done yet,” Nurmagomedov said. “I can say that. When I told him the lightweight division needs to move on, he told me he isn’t done. He said to me, ‘When you fly to Vegas at the end of February, we’ll sit down and talk.’ Dana needs to make some kind of decision. But whatever the decision, I’ll agree with it.”
In the meantime, it sounds like Khabib is putting his focus into other interests, rather than any return to competition. “I’m focused on my own big projects, four or five of them. I have to spend time on them,” Nurmagomedov told Match TV. One of those is his recently acquired Eagle Fighting Championship. Along with his coaching interests in UFC talents like Umar Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev, and several others it’s clear that even if he won’t be competing fans will see Khabib in and around the UFC for years to come.
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