UFC president Dana White said he’s still hoping out hope for the return of Khabib Nurmagomedov, saying “there’s still a chance” he comes back.
Nurmagomedov said he wanted to hang up his gloves following his submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, but White told him to take some time and think about it. It’s been several months now, but we still don’t have a firm answer on what’s next for Nurmagomedov. He’s still technically the UFC lightweight champion, but he doesn’t have a fight booked and there doesn’t seem to be one on the horizon. And yet, White still holds out hope for a return.
Speaking to the media at the UFC 259 pre-fight press conference, White confirmed that Nurmagomedov is still the champion and he believes “The Eagle” is surveying the land before he makes his final decision on retirement.
"You don't Khabib saying 'leave me alone!'"
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 4, 2021
“Yeah, we’re going to have dinner on Saturday or Sunday and, you know, just talk and see. I think that a lot of these fights have to play out in that (lightweight) division, you know, from No. 1, all the way up to No. 1, they’re incredible fights. You can mix and match them any way you want and they’re really good fights. Let some of these play out to see who will fight next for the little. And I think that if Khabib is interested, he’ll take the fight. You don’t hear Khabib saying, ‘Leave me alone, stop asking me.’ So there’s still a chance, that’s the way I look at it,” White said.
White is correct in saying the UFC lightweight division is stacked right now, with fighters such as Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje, and Michael Chandler among the top contenders for the belt right now. But Nurmagomedov has already defeated three of those fighters, and until he sees someone truly stand out, he likely won’t have any interest in returning. It will be up to those lightweights, then, to impress the king.
Do you think Dana White will be able to convince Khabib Nurmagomedov to step into the Octagon again?