UFC's Dana White Says Khabib vs. Justin Gaethje 'Will Be on Fight Island'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MAY 09: UFC President Dana White speaks to the media after UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje's battle for supremacy in UFC's lightweight division will be staged on "Fight Island," according to UFC President Dana White.

"I don't know if it will be the first one, but it will be on Fight Island, unless miraculously the world comes back together faster than I think it's gonna," White said on ESPN 1000 Chicago (via ESPN.com). "Hopefully it will be done by mid-June, and I could put on a fight that weekend that it's done or end of June."

In a profanity-laden series of tweets Monday (note: language NSFW), Conor McGregor made the hard sell on challenging Gaethje, who defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 last Saturday to become the interim lightweight champion:

Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA

The fans make the sport! Watching the other night I was against going in without them. But it will be my fucking pleasure to display the power I possess with zero background noise for them. Its me and Justin next as khabib is the biggest bottle fighter in the game. Guarantee it.

Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA

Justin, there is no danger in a man that hugs legs, we all know. Try and dance around what the real threat is here all you want. I am going to fucking butcher you. Your teeth. I’m going to put them on a fucking necklace. Speak on my skills as a father? You are fucking dead.

Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA

Don’t ever say you represent the great nation of the United States of America ever again. No true American would speak so highly of, or allow, a convicted member of a Jihadi terror cell represent them. Never Forget! You are a fucking blind fool, and I am going to finish the job.

Khabib vs. Gaethje is the more logical next step, given Gaethje filled in for Nurmagomedov at UFC 249 when the unbeaten star was unable to travel to the United States for the event.

UFC staged that pay-per-view at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, with two more shows to come Wednesday and Saturday.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic limits the company's options in terms of venues, Jacksonville won't serve as the main hub in the same way WWE has utilized its Performance Center in Orlando for live programming.

White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto on April 9 that "Fight Island is real," alluding to a plan where UFC would set up shop in an island setting and make that its home for events:

ESPN MMA @espnmma

UFC President Dana White spoke to Brett Okamoto about #UFC249 no longer taking place on April 18. (via @bokamotoESPN) https://t.co/VRP5jL3k9J

He elaborated more about the plan with Okamoto on April 25:

ESPN MMA @espnmma

“We really are putting an Octagon on the beach.” @danawhite describes what Fight Island will look like 🏝 (via @bokamotoESPN) https://t.co/jpGJ56Jz54

Khabib vs. Gaethje would be a good way to coronate the concept, though a June date would require a quick turnaround time for Gaethje. Nurmagomedov also told ESPN's Marc Raimondi he'd need a minimum of 45 days to properly train once Ramadan ends on May 23.