UFC lightweight champion, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov, has earmarked a return to active competition in July – following his withdrawal from UFC 249 recently. The undefeated sambo-specialist was expected to meet with former interim titleholder and rival, Tony Ferguson in a fifth attempted pairing of the two, on the April 18th. instalment of the event. The 31-year-old was then forced out of the pairing due to travel restrictions in place, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – which prevented his reentry to the United States from his native Dagestan.
In his place, we’ve got fellow Ali Abdelaziz client, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje who now clashes with Ferguson this coming Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, with interim spoils awarded to the victor. Taking to his official Instagram page this evening, Khabib – who’s currently observing the Muslim practice of Ramadan, outlined a timeframe closer to July for a return to active competition – despite promotional president, Dana White’s recent claims that Khabib would return in either September or October to unify the lightweight championships.
“I can fight anytime, Ramadan finish 23(rd.) May. July I’m gonna be ready. Stop talking about me, this is coronatime, when Khabibtime come I smash all of them.“
A proposed July return for Khabib would mark his first Octagon appearance since September of last year, where he once more unified 155-pound gold, via a third-round rear-naked choke triumph over Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier in Abu Dhabi. His victory over American Top Team staple, Poirier – marked the second successful defence of his lightweight title, following a bad-blooded clash with Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October of 2018.