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Dana White Says 'There's Still a Chance' Khabib Will Take Fight to Return to UFC

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIMarch 4, 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

Dana White isn't convinced Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement will last. 

The UFC president told ESPN's Marc Raimondi he's meeting with the lightweight champion and will discuss potential bouts. 

“Let some of these fights play out to see who would fight next for the title," White said. "I think if Khabib is interested, he’ll take the fight. … There’s still a chance.”

Nurmagomedov retired after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 to unify the lightweight title following the death of his father and long-time trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

"This was my last fight," Khabib said after defeating Gaethje. "No way I'm going to come here without my father."

White isn't convinced. 

Nurmagomedov ended his career with an undefeated record (29-0, 8 KOs), and plenty of fighters still want to hand him his first loss—including Conor McGregor, who continues goading his rival to return. Even if Khabib does decide he wants back in the Octagon, McGregor is far from a likely opponent. 

Dustin Poirier, Gaethje and Charles Oliveria remain the top three lightweight challengers, respectively.  

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Return or not, White continues to hype the retired fighter as someone waiting for the right time and matchup to defend his title. 

Ahead of UFC 257, White relayed a message from Nurmagomedov, telling ESPN retirement might not be permanent. 

"Show me something spectacular and make me want to come back," White recalled Khabib telling him. 

Nothing came to fruition after the January event. Now, White is reiterating those comments ahead of UFC 259. It could be a marketing ploy or a way to drum up excitement. Until Khabib confirms his desires, UFC will remain open to welcoming its No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter back with open arms. 

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