Dana White to Talk with Khabib About Another Fight Despite UFC Retirement

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2021

Khabib Nurmagomedov, left, listens to Dana White during a news conference for the UFC 229 mixed martial arts bouts Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov is scheduled to fight Conor McGregor on Saturday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

UFC President Dana White plans to meet with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to discuss a potential return to the Octagon for the unbeaten star.

"I'm obviously meeting with him because I think that he should fight again," White said to ESPN's Brett Okamoto. "Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje [in October]. Look at what he's done to every opponent he has faced. ... I think he should fight again and I'm going to press him as hard as I can for one more.

Nurmagomedov announced his retirement immediately after beating Gaethje at UFC 254.

White told reporters in November he was leaving the door open for Nurmagomedov to fight again. The 32-year-old is not only still recognized as the lightweight titleholder but also occupies the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound rankings on UFC.com.

White has seen Conor McGregor state his intention to walk away from MMA on multiple occasions, only to reverse course over time.

His encounter with Gaethje was Khabib's first fight since the death of his father, Abdulmanap, because of COVID-19-related complications. After submitting the challenger in the second round with a triangle choke, he was visibly emotional on the mat.

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White described Abdulmanap's death as a "major blow to [Nurmagomedov]" in his interview with Okamoto but said Abdulmanap had wanted to see his son "hit 30-0."

Maybe Nurmagomedov wants to go out on top. In the buildup to UFC 254, he brought up a possible fight with Georges St-Pierre, citing how he had dispatched the best the lightweight division has to offer otherwise.

With an ample amount of time to recover physically and mentally from his last victory, perhaps he'll warm more to the idea of a comeback.