Dana White: Khabib Nurmagomedov remains UFC lightweight champion and sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter

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Khabib Nurmagomedov remains the UFC lightweight champion despite the announcement of his retirement after a victory over Justin Gaethje in October.

Just moments after the undefeated Dagestani subdued Gaethje to defend his title for the third time, he put his gloves on in the octagon to confirm that his fighting days are behind him. Nurmagomedov was competing for the first time since the tragic death of his father Abdulmanap earlier this year and he revealed that he had promised his mother to retire after the fight with Gaethje.

Days later, UFC President Dana White said he spoke to Nurmagomedov following his announcement and was confident the reigning lightweight champion would return for at least one fight. additional. While nothing has been decided yet, White says he’s giving Nurmagomedov time to decide his future, which is why he will remain the lightweight champion with no intention of leaving the belt or awarding a title. provisional.

“He didn’t say he would fight anything, but he didn’t say no,” White said of Nurmagomedov’s question at the UFC post-fight press conference Vegas 12. “He’s looking at 30-0. His dad wanted him and I think he was super emotional. Had mumps or measles or whatever, a broken toe, rode on a stationary bike for this fight and then came and fought… I think he was super emotional.

“He’s still the champion. There is no vacant title open at the moment or no provisional title. He’s the champion and we’ll give him time to figure out what he wants to do.

While Nurmagomedov previously promised his mother not to fight any more, White says he plans to speak to her in the next few days regarding his future.

“He said he was going to talk to his mother,” White revealed.

Beyond Nurmagomedov’s position as the UFC lightweight champion, he also fulfilled another dream after his victory over Gaethje and who was at the top of the pound-for-pound table.

During his UFC career, Nurmagomedov had never been ranked No.1 pound-for-pound, but that eventually changed after he moved his record to 29-0 as he lost just two rounds in competition at inside the octagon.

Of course, Nurmagomedov’s ranking came at the expense of former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who held that top spot for much of the past decade.

Needless to say, Jones wasn’t too happy that Nurmagomedov was ranked ahead of him once the UFC released the new pound-for-pound rankings, but White says it was absolutely the right move to make.

“He’s the No. 1 pound for pound in the world,” White said of Nurmagomedov. “I mean just that performance with Gaethje besides being undefeated and losing maybe two rounds in his entire career, I would say he’s the best pound for pound fighter in the world.

“I’m telling you Jon Jones has always been the GOAT. He’s not the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now.

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