Forgotten his promises: Khabib is ready to resume his career
Khabib Nurmagomedov may resume his career. The Russian UFC lightweight champion told the head of the promotion Dana White about it, allowing the possibility of a rematch with Conor McGregor. But for that Khabib put one condition.
On October 24, 2020, Khabib Nurmagomedov wrote another big page in his rich history, easily and effortlessly coping with American Justin Gaggi, who literally fell asleep after a cool choking triangle performed by the Russian champion. Thanks to that victory Khabib extended his unbeaten streak to 29 fights, as well as made his third title defense in the UFC light heavyweight division and took the top spot in the overall rankings of the best fighting promotion in the world. Nurmagomedov’s words right inside the octagon immediately after the fight also made the fight historic.
“I promised my mother that this would be my last fight. She didn’t want me to fight without my father. She was the only parent I had left. I wish I had more time to give her,” Eagle said at the time.
Khabib’s decision to retire from professional sport shocked everyone: both fans and Dana White himself. Although the head of UFC believed till the end that the Russian champion would change his mind and will fight again, already the 30th fight of his career. For the sake of that White did not deprive Nurmagomedov of the title and gave him enough time to think over his decision. The president of the league believed that the decision was made by the Russian only on emotion. Because of this, but also against the background of White’s intention to pay Khabib a tidy sum to return to the octagon there were a lot of rumors in the media. Most of them claimed that Heads will fight one more time. And, perhaps, this fight will even be a rematch with Conor McGregor.
— danawhite (@danawhite) January 16, 2021
But time passed, and three months later, the UFC began a new activity. With tournaments already resuming in 2021, the promotion needed to figure out what plans to make for the near future, especially with the McGregor vs. Porier lightweight rematch a week away. With that in mind, White changed his tactics. If before the head of UFC in communication with Nurmagomedov – even indirectly – was soft and accommodating, now the president of the league has taken an attacking position, demanding a final answer from the Russian champion on the question of a return to the octagon: either yes or no. White did not give Khabib the third choice and announced a personal “five-minute” conversation with Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi, where the Eagle arrived, not only to talk to the head of the UFC but also to look at his friends’ performance at the next tournament.
The conversation took place on the evening of January 15. After that, Khabib posted another joke video on his Instagram, this time using footage from the movie “Captive of the Caucasus,” while a serious-minded White prepared fans for the results of the past dialogue.
The functionary announced them in the course of the UFC Fight Island 7 tournament.
“I was shocked when he announced that he had finished his career after his fight with Gaggi. At that time a lot of problems fell on Khabib: the death of his father, a leg injury just before the fight… Even at that tournament, we agreed with Nurmagomedov to take some time for reflection. And yesterday I met him and we had a talk about it. You know that next week UFC 257 is going to take place and there are going to be some top fights. Conor McGregor will fight Dustin Porter, Dan Hooker will fight Michael Chandler.
“And Khabib said to me, ‘Let these guys show something phenomenal, something that will make me come back. I’m not going to hold the belt in the lightweight division. If any of these fighters impress me, I’ll be back.”
– White announced.
The tournament will take place very soon, on the night of January 23 to 24, Moscow time. Dan Hooker ranks sixth in the UFC lightweight division, Michael Chandler at the upcoming event will hold his debut fight in the top fighting league after leaving Bellator, where the American was the lightweight champion. We do not have to talk about Dustin Porrier and Conor McGregor, because Khabib had already met with both fighters in the octagon to defend the championship belt and he made them both give up.
In this story, of course, the most attention is attracted to McGregor. The Irishman, after his historic defeat in October 2018, regularly expressed his intention to have a rematch, but Khabib refused to do so. Now, apparently, the way to the fight with Eagle is open before Notorious – everything is in his hands.