UFC President Dana White is hoping to convince Khabib Nurmagomedov to return to the promotion when the two meet in Las Vegas at the end of the month.
White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto he believes that the retired, unbeaten champion will fight again if the right opponent comes along:
"I saw some talk that Dustin (Poirier) should be the champion. Well, Dustin just got smoked by Khabib. Conor got smoked by Khabib. [Justin] Gaethje got smoked by Khabib. They're gonna have to fight it out. [The Nos. 1-7-ranked lightweights] will fight this thing out; we'll find out who the champ is. It's the best way. Nobody can deny, when Khabib does step away, who the best is in the division because they will have all fought.
"And [Nurmagomedov] can say whatever he wants. Khabib can say whatever he wants. I believe if this thing plays out, and the right guy, however the fights happen, he'll fight him. I truly believe that."
This will be at least the second time in the past month that White and Nurmagomedov are discussing his future and the possibility of fighting again.
Their first face-to-face came on Jan. 15 at the UAE Warriors 15 event in Abu Dhabi. White said the following day during the UFC show on ABC that the Eagle could fight the winner of the UFC 257 main event between Poirier and Conor McGregor.
Poirier wound up beating McGregor in the second round by TKO on Jan. 23, but there has been no indication that Nurmagomedov wants to come back. The Russian star already holds a submission win over Poirier at UFC 242 in September 2019, 11 months after submitting McGregor.
Following his win over Justin Gaethje in October at UFC 254 last October, Nurmagomedov surprisingly announced his retirement from mixed martial arts competition in the middle of the octagon.
The 32-year-old walked away from the sport with a 29-0 career record and as the reigning UFC lightweight champion. The promotion has not yet forced him to vacate the title amid hopes that he will decide to return.