UFC president Dana White was confident that lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will return for his 30th pro fight. However, at the UFC 257 post-fight news conference, White has some doubts.
On Saturday night at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier knocked out Conor McGregor in brutal fashion in the second round to pick up a massive upset win. As well, Michael Chandler had an incredible UFC debut in the co-main event when he knocked out Octagon veteran Dan Hooker.
The knockout of Conor Mcgregor was a big surprise for everyone. With that, all the paths in the lightweight division have changed drastically. Fighters like Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje are currently eyeing a fight with Nurmagomedov. But the opportunity to fight the champ might not come if he vacates his title.
Dana White on Khabib Nurmagomedov fighting again
Following the conclusion of UFC 257, White spoke with Nurmagomedov on the phone. The undefeated Russian champion doesn’t see challenges out there for him right now, which has White seemingly second-guessing if Nurmagomedov will return.
“I did talk to Khabib,” White told MMA Junkie. “He said to me, ‘Dana, be honest with yourself. You know, I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys.’ I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s (thinking). But it doesn’t sound very positive. So we’ll see. What he said was, and I told you guys before, he won’t hold the division up. I mean, he already retired. He’s retired. I’m the one that’s been trying to get him to do one more.”
White’s conversation with Khabib came shortly after Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler solidified their places at the top of the UFC lightweight division with knockout victories. If Nurmagomedov vacates, White said Poirier vs. Chandler would likely be the next matchup for the UFC’s 155-pound title.
“(Chandler and Poirier) just fought,” White said. “They’re not fighting again anytime soon. We’ll get it figured out.”
Dana White also added that Poirier vs. Chandler for the title is the most likely scenario if Khabib vacates the title.
Khabib Nurmagomedov retired in the cage following his UFC 254 title defense against Justin Gaethje. Despite Nurmagomedov’s comments, White continued to voice confidence the Russian fighter would return to try to advance to 30-0.
Khabib and White met in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 15 at a UAE Warriors event. A portion of White’s sales pitch was captured on an episode of “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight.” White later announced Nurmagomedov’s return would be contingent on what happened at UFC 257. However, days later, Nurmagomedov once again expressed he was likely done fighting.
Dana White and Khabib are expected to meet face-to-face once again in late January. According to White, the fighter and promoter will grab dinner in Las Vegas.
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