Khabib didn’t confirm that he won’t return to the UFC
Khabib Nurmagomedov most recently (on December 28th) gave an interview to the Russian sports broadcaster “Match TV”. The UFC lightweight champion spoke about his retirement and a potential return to the UFC for the first time since UFC 254 fight against Justin Gaethje.
We are all wondering if Khabib will come back to fight again in 2021 and in this interview Nurmagomedov was asked this exact question “is there a chance that we will see you again in the promotion (UFC)?”
In his response, the 32-year-old Dagestani champion did not confirm that he won’t fight again and did not say that he will for sure not return. Khabib’s response was something like “I wouldn’t want that“ (in Russian – “Мне бы этого не хотелось”) and it did not sound like a definite “no”.
Khabib might be fighting again in 2021
Nurmagomedov also stated that he will be meeting Dana White in a few weeks and they “will talk about it”. Such tone does not sound like a definite answer “I’m retired, there is nothing to talk about. I am not fighting again”.
“I did not talk with Dana White about vacating my title. I think it is because the organization really wants me to come back. It is understandable – I’ve been in the UFC for 9 years, I had many fights, became a champion, defended my title, never lost a fight, have a big fan base from all around the world. My performances – it’s already a story (meaning his fights are big deal for the UFC). I understand why UFC wants me to return and I don’t blame them. I won’t hide it – they are trying to persuade me to come back. Offering different terms and fighters but they can’t surprise me with it, there is nobody that they can offer (meaning nobody worthwhile coming back for). Soon, in a couple of weeks, we will be meeting with Dana and will have a discussion.”
Besides that, in this interview, Khabib also made a few more interesting comments.
About his mother and her reaction to Khabib retiring after fighting Gaethje:
“To be honest, we didn’t even discuss this, but she was glad. The last fight she didn’t even watch live – she watched it afterward already knowing the outcome…”
About the top 3 lightweights in the UFC at the moment. Worth noting that Khabib did not mention Charles Oliveira as one of them:
“It is Dustin, Conor, and Islam Makhachev…”
A lot of news outlets falsely translated Khabib’s quote regarding the upcoming fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Khabib did not mean that McGregor and Poirier will be fighting for the lightweight belt at UFC 257 (find out here about UFC 257 PPV buys).
He said: “a winner of Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier will be fighting for the belt…” – meaning a winner of this bout will fight for the belt afterward. Once again, Nurmagomedov never mentioned that he is vacating his belt ahead of the UFC 257.
Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, confirmed that it was falsely informed in his Twitter:
“Enough with the fake news. Khabib said the winner of this fight will fight for the title he didn’t say the winner will become champion…”
After all, we did learn a lot from this interview. There was no mentioning of a promise to his mother or anything like that – his message was that he doesn’t know what and who UFC can offer to him, something that will worth fighting and coming back for.
Nurmagomedov didn’t confirm that he made his final decision and he did leave some room and a possibility for a come back by saying that he and Dana White will have a discussion in a few weeks.
Who knows, maybe Dana White will surprise “The Eagle” and offer him something that he won’t be able to refuse? Perhaps, a partnership deal between the UFC and Khabib’s MMA promotion Eagle Fighting Championship as well as better terms for Khabib’s teammates in the UFC?
What we do know as a fact is that UFC really wants to make Khabib vs McGregor 2 rematch and not interested in Khabib vs GSP which is “not an option” according to Dana White.
We shall see what the future holds… More news will be coming our way following the UFC 257.