If UFC president Dana White gets his way, Khabib Nurmagomedov will have his chance to go 30-0.
White and Nurmagomedov both spoke publicly about Nurmagomedov’s career status in the months following the fighter’s retirement to UFC 254 after a successful lightweight championship defense against Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov said he didn’t expect to fight again, honoring a promise he made to his mother, while White maintained that for now Nurmagomedov is still an active UFC fighter and a title holder.
The two are expected to meet in Abu Dhabi this month and White is not giving up on his plan to negotiate at least one more fight for “The Eagle”.
“I’m obviously meeting him because I think he should fight again,” White said in an interview with ESPN. “I mean, look what he did to Justin Gaethje. Look at what he did to each opponent he faced. Like when I wanted [Daniel] Cormier to stay, I still think they are the best in the world. And then there’s always the argument, well, it’s never a bad thing to come out on top.
“And when you say money, I mean Khabib has money beyond belief. This guy never has to work again and he always has the ability to do things to make amazing money. He is in a very unique position as a fighter.
“I think he should fight again and I’m going to squeeze him as hard as I can for one more,” White added.
Despite all the public comments from White and Nurmagomedov, White says they have only managed to converse with each other via text message since Nurmagomedov’s last fight on October 24. His meeting in Abu Dhabi with Nurmagomedov will be their first face-to-face conversation. in almost three months. White said he hoped to have a response for the media and fans the same night he met Nurmagomedov’s team, although he could not give an exact date as to when that meeting would be.
When asked if his interest in booking another fight came from a promoter’s or a fan’s perspective, White sees him as a bit of both.
“As a promoter you always want the best guys in the world, but at the same time as a promoter when a guy wants to retire he probably should if it crosses your mind or you think about it,” White said. “The difference with a guy like Khabib is he’s been through so much and losing his dad was a big blow to him. It’s something they did together, but his dad wanted him to hit 30-0.
“But as a fight fan, I want Khabib in 10 more fight. “
White has made no secret that his favorite opponent for another Nurmagomedov fight is a rematch between Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor. The two broke UFC pay-per-view records with their heated grudge match at UFC 229 in October 2018, but Nurmagomedov has repeatedly said he has no interest in fighting again. McGregor.
If Nurmagomedov sticks to his retirement, White still sees some big fights ahead for McGregor, who already has a high profile rematch with Dustin Poirier scheduled for UFC 257 on January 23.
“No matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor isn’t just one of the best in the world, [but] one of the best to ever do, ”White said. “Right now he’s as focused as he’s ever been. I don’t know if it will be the same Conor after the fight with Poirier. Like you said, Conor goes like this [makes up-and-down gesture]. But if this Conor stays for next year, how not to remake Khabib against Conor?
“The division is filled with tough guys and the reality is that if Khabib retires whoever is highest ranked at that point will end up facing Conor – if Conor beats Poirier and fights for the title – I’m sure. .