Update: On May 13th, Dana White told the press, at the post-fight press conference for UFC Fight Night 173: Smith vs. Teixeira— that the fight would happen in September.
A unification bout for the UFC lightweight championship between Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov and Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje is expected to feature at a UFC Fight Island event this summer – according to promotion president, Dana White. Recently minted interim 155-pound titleholder, Gaethje earned a meeting with Dominance MMA stablemate, Khabib last Saturday – taking a final frame knockout win over Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249.
Arizona native, Gaethje made it clear that a meeting with Nurmagomedov was his next port of call – despite the allure of a meeting with former two-weight world champion, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor emerging as a possibility over the prior twenty-four hours. A summer matching of the two makes logistical sense. Gaethje is afforded time to recover from any dings he suffered against Ferguson – while Khabib, who is currently practising the Muslim tradition of Ramadan until May 23rd. can make his Octagon return in July, a timeframe he outlined in recent days.
Speaking with ESPN 1000, in Chicago this evening, White revealed the promotion are expecting to put together a unification clash between Khabib and Gaethje for a UFC Fight Island event this summer.
“I expect [Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje] to happen this summer. I don’t know if it will be the first one (Fight Island event), but it will be on Fight Island, unless miraculously the world comes back together faster than I think it’s gonna.“
White has revealed recently that infrastructure is currently being put in place which would allow the promotion to host events on a private island, known as ‘Fight Island’ on a “weekly basis“. Accommodation and training facilities are just a couple of amenities participants can avail of, according to White – with the promotion set to build an Octagon on a beach.
A summer return for Dagestani grappler, Nurmagomedov, would mark his first outing since a championship unification triumph over Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier at UFC 242 in September of last year. As mentioned earlier, Khabib was expected to headline the April 18th. instalment of UFC 249 in Lemoore, California – until travel restrictions in place in his native Russia, prevented his reentry to the United States.