Any regard that UFC president Dana White once held for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement is clearly out the window.
Earlier this week, Nurmagomedov again reiterated his intention to remain retired and suggested that the winner of the upcoming UFC 257 showdown between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier could eventually succeed him as UFC lightweight champion. While Nurmagomedov doesn’t envision that happening with him taking part in any rematches, White clearly does.
“When I fly out there (to ‘Fight Island’), Khabib is going to be there, too. I’m going to meet with Khabib while I’m there,” White said Wednesday on the “SHOUT!” Buffalo podcast. “In a perfect world, if Conor wins this fight, I’d love to see the rematch with him and Khabib. It’s the biggest fight that can be made, and it’s the fight that makes sense.”
Nurmagomedov, even before announcing his retirement last October, scoffed at the idea of fighting either McGregor or Poirier, over whom he owns victories. Nurmagomedov submitted Poirier with a rear-naked choke in September 2019 at UFC 242; he did the same to McGregor in October 2018 at UFC 229.
McGregor has since been adamant on numerous occasions that he wants a rematch, with Nurmagomedov shooting it down.
Nurmagomedov retired after submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, citing a promise made to his mother not to fight without his coach and father, Abdulmanap, who died of COVID-19 complications over the summer.
White initially understood and indicated he was respectful of Nurmagomedov’s decision, but that tune has changed the past several weeks.