Khabib Nurmagomedov believes the winner of the UFC 257 main event between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23 will fight for the UFC lightweight belt. He did not, however, name an opponent for that potential title fight.
Nurmagomedov remains the lightweight champ despite retiring after beating Justin Gaethje on Oct. 24. He was asked during a Monday interview with the Russian outlet Match TV if there’s a chance he’ll fight again in the UFC, and according to the transcript Match provided, he said: “I would not want that.”
Some originally thought Nurmagomedov was indicating McGregor vs. Poirier would be for the title, assuming it was vacant. But Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, clarified that what the champ meant was he believes the winner of the Jan. 23 bout will fight for the title.
Nurmagomedov said he expects to meet with UFC president Dana White in a couple of weeks to discuss his future. White has maintained there’s a chance Nurmagomedov will fight again, but Nurmagomedov has been steadfast publicly in saying his retirement is real.
“Dana White and I are constantly in touch — the moment about the vacancy of the belt was not discussed,” Nurmagomedov said. “It seems to me that this is because the organization really wants me to resume my career. This is understandable — I spent nine years in the league, I had many fights, became a champion, defended the title, never lost, I have a huge fan base from around the world.
“My performances are already a kind of history. The desire of the UFC is understandable to me, I don’t blame them. I will not hide — they [try to] persuade me to return. There’s nothing surprising about that. They offer conditions, fighters — but it is hard to surprise me; they have no one to offer me. Soon, in a couple of weeks, we’ll be meeting with Dana to discuss.”
Nurmagomedov’s 29-0 record includes wins over McGregor and Poirier. His father, Abdulmanap, who died earlier this year, had talked about his son retiring with a 30-0 record. There was talk of Nurmagomedov possibly luring Georges St-Pierre out of retirement for his final fight. But after beating Gaethje, Nurmagomedov said he had promised his mother he wouldn’t fight again.
Nurmagomedov was asked about his mother’s reaction to his retirement: “To be honest, we didn’t even discuss it somehow, but she was happy. She did not watch the last fight live — she watched the tape, knowing the result. But she always has watched everything. It has become difficult [for her] in the last couple of years.”
Gueorgui Milkov contributed to this report.
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