UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has left the door open to reverse his decision to resign, UFC President Dana White has announced.
White was meeting with Khabib at a UAE Warriors event in Abu Dhabi on Friday when the internet collapsed amid rumors and speculation about the course of their much-anticipated face-to-face meeting.
Early Saturday, White said he would announce the outcome of their conversation ahead of the UFC main card launch on ABC 1, the curtain rises on Fight Island in 2021.
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And later in the day, the UFC chief shared the news that the undefeated Russian superstar could return to the Octagon – but with the caveat that it would have to be against an easy rival, he thinks it’s an exciting challenge.
White said Khabib was impressed with Charles Oliveira’s win over Tony Ferguson in December and that he will also keep an eye on next week’s UFC 257 map, which features light rivals Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier in the main event and Dan Hooker and former meeting Bellator Champion Michael Chandler meets in the co-main event, also at 155 pounds.
White said Khabib’s message to him was “to show me something spectacular” to lure him back, but he would “never tie the division”.
“If someone delivers … I have a feeling that he (Khabib) will fight them,” White said.
Khabib’s career is unbeaten 29-0, 13 of those wins come in the UFC octagon. He won the UFC lightweight title at UFC 223 when he defeated late substitute Al Iaquinta for the vacant belt in Brooklyn, New York.
Since then, Khabib has successfully defended the title with bare choke finishes from former two-division champion Conor McGregor and interim champion Dustin Poirier. He then combined the title with a triangle choke finish from another interim champion, Justin Gaethje, before announcing his retirement in the octagon.
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“Some people close to me weren’t happy with the decision”: Khabib opens up to retirement and the “burden of responsibility”
Khabib announced that his decision to retire from his career stemmed from a promise he made to his mother following the death of his father, Abdulmanap, following complications from Covid-19.
However, the lure of the octagon seems to have sparked a possible rethink on the part of Khabib, who could still celebrate his UFC comeback.