Despite current UFC lightweight champion, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov’s decision to hang up his gloves from professional competition back in October at UFC 254, promotional president, Dana White has plans in place for a conversation regarding the possible snapping of his retirement, as he plans to press Khabib on the topic of a return “as hard as I (he) can“.
Still billed as the promotion’s undisputed lightweight best, Khabib also sits atop the organization’s pound-for-pound rankings but has himself questioned the reasoning surrounding his status as the 155-pound division pacesetter, following his retirement almost three-months ago.
Submitting then-interim lightweight titleholder, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje at UFC 254 on ‘Fight Island’, overcome with emotion, Khabib detailed to UFC commentator, Jon Anik that he would be calling time on his professional career with immediate effect, noting a promise he had made to his mother following the sad passing of his father and renowned sambo coach, Abdulamanap earlier that year due to complications stemming from COVID-19.
Entering the contest off the back of a broken toe as a well as contracting mumps, the mixed martial arts community, as per the above mentioned White, was as a whole, lucky to witness the former compete at all given the circumstances facing him ahead of the main event tilt.
However, in the weeks and months after Khabib’s somewhat surprising announcement, White detailed on several occasions how he was confident the 29-0 sambo specialist would return for one final outing in an attempt to round off a phenomenal career with a 30-0 résumé.
With the promotion slated to field a potential lightweight title-eliminator between former opponents of Khabib, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor in just two weeks time, the future of the division remains up in the air.
Also expected to meet with Khabib in Abu Dhabi, UAE upon his flight to the Middle East tomorrow, White spoke with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto before his journey, claiming he’s planning to press Khabib on a return to the sport.
“I’m obviously meeting with (Khabib Nurmagomedov) because I believe he should fight again,” White said. “I mean, look at what he did to Justin Gaethje. Look at what he’s done to everybody he’s faced. Like when I wanted (Daniel) Cormier to stay, I still think they’re the best in the world. And then there’s always the argument, well, it’s never a bad thing to go out on top.“
“And when you talk about money, I mean Khabib has money beyond belief,” White said.”This guy doesn’t ever have to work again and he still has the ability to do things to make unbelievable money. He’s in a very unique position as a fighter. I think he’s gonna fight again and I’m gonna press him as hard as I can for one more.” (H/T MMA Fighting)
Ever since Khabib announced his decision to retire, speculation has remained rife as to what, or more to the point, who could entice him to make one final Octagon appearance. One potential opponent which seems to constantly rise to the top is former two-weight world champion, Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre — with a battle of two of the most dominant wrestling forces in the sport’s history presented as a possible legacy sealing fight for Khabib.