UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is considering going against his claim that he'll honor the wishes of his parents by retiring. He also might not. Such was the cryptic announcement from Dana White on Saturday during the UFC Fight Night broadcast from Abu Dhabi one day after the UFC president had a much-anticipated sit-down with the unbeaten Russian star.
Nurmagomedov (29-0) surprisingly retired inside the cage following his UFC 254 victory over Justin Gaethje last October. According to White, the native of Russia isn't against the idea of one more fight to reach the 30-0 mark his late father and trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who died last July from COVID complications at 57, had so coveted.
"Basically, the way that [Nurmagomedov] feels right now is that he has accomplished everything he has set out to accomplish," White said. "[But] he thought [Charles] Oliveira looked good in the way he beat Tony Ferguson.
"He said, 'I would never tie up the division, but show me something spectacular and make me want to come back and fight.' So I have the feeling if somebody delivers -- it could be on the main event or the co-main event [of UFC 257]. There are two fights coming up, and if these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them."
UFC 257 takes place on Saturday, Jan. 23, also on Fight Island in the United Arab Emirates, and features a pair of must-see lightweight bouts among top contenders. Former champion Conor McGregor faces Dustin Poirier in a rematch while Dan Hooker takes on former three-time Bellator MMA champion Michael Chandler in the co-main event.
"I thought [Nurmagomedov] made an emotional decision. There was no reason to make a hasty decision then and I don't think he had to," White said. "He's the best in the world right now. His best performance was against Gaethje with all that stuff going on. He just needed some time to clear his head. If these guys do what I think they are going to do next weekend, it sounds like he might be interested in fighting one of them."
Nurmagomedov, 32, was never stripped of his UFC title despite announcing his retirement and remains the pound-for-pound top ranked fighter in the sport.