UFC President Dana White has sent a message to boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. declaring the promotion's lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, will only fight him in mixed martial arts.
Mayweather came out of retirement for a second time to defeat former dual-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor in August 2017 and has touted a possible meeting with the current lightweight champion.
However, White told TMZ "The Eagle" won't follow McGregor into taking on Mayweather outside the Octagon: "Listen, if Mayweather wants to fight, come fight. You fight in the UFC. We're not boxing him. We did that once. That's over."
He added: "You wanna fight? You come fight...a real fight."
Mayweather stopped McGregor in the 10th round of their matchup last year, but it was a one-sided victory for the boxing icon, who finally took his record to an undefeated 50-0 as a result.
Talk of a meeting between Nurmagomedov and "Money" first arose after the former appeared alongside Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, in October and playfully challenged the 41-year-old, via FightHype.com:
It's unsurprising White isn't keen for another of his premier stars to temporarily take himself out of the UFC running. McGregor did the same when he was lightweight champion and waited 23 months between UFC fights as a result.
Never one to turn down a challenge, particularly a lucrative one, Mayweather responded to Nurmagomedov's call-out by telling TMZ his terms, suggesting he'll only take part in a boxing match and wants it to be in Las Vegas:
The UFC couldn't prevent McGregor from chasing his boxing dream in 2017—or at least didn't want to at the time—so it's up for debate as to whether White would have any say in stopping Nurmagomedov doing the same.
The Notorious is largely regarded as one of the best strikers and boxers in UFC, and yet The Eagle stood toe-to-toe with him in the stand-up game, as well as dominating him on the ground.
CNN's Bianca Britton recently confirmed the Nevada State Athletic Commission had upheld its decision to suspend both Nurmagomedov and McGregor until its investigation in the post-fight furore at UFC 229 is completed.
The Dagestani champ tapped McGregor out, after which he hopped out of the cage to fight the Irishman's jiu jitsu coach, Dillon Danis. Fan Nick Hammond posted footage of the post-fight melee:
It's left some uncertainty around his UFC future despite the fact he holds the lightweight belt. Nurmagomedov appears interested, however, and recently posted a video on his Instagram, depicting how he believed their boxing match would go.
Then there's the fact Mayweather has other options in front of him, not least of which is a potential rematch with Manny Pacquiao, whom he met at Tokyo Odaiba Ultra Park earlier in October, via ESPN:
That bout is yet to be rubber-stamped and leaves an opening for Nurmagomedov, who would stand to make the biggest pay day of his career if he did step outside the Octagon and into the boxing spotlight.
However, UFC chief White wants to see Money take his turn and make the transition.