Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov abruptly announced his retirement following his UFC 254 title defense against Justin Gaethje. “The Eagle” seemingly walked away with an undefeated 29-0 record, but left the door open for an octagon return when he recently met with UFC president Dana White.
“I thought, in his last fight, his father had passed away. He had been through a lot. He had been away from his family during that time, got injured while he was training, and I thought that he made an emotional decision. There was no reason to make a hasty decision like that then. We didn’t have to,” White said during Saturday’s UFC Fight Island 7 broadcast.
“He thought that (Charles) Oliveira looked good in his last fight against Tony Ferguson. So next Saturday, we got the (Conor) McGregor and (Dustin) Poirier fight and (Michael) Chandler and (Dan) Hooker on there. So his words to me were, ‘I’m going to watch these fights.’ He said, ‘I would never tie up the division. I would never tie up the division, hold the belt and keep the belt away from anybody else. These guys do something spectacular, show me something spectacular, and make me want to come back and fight,” White said.
Nurmagomedov will not be in attendance for UFC 257. He’s expected to meet with White in Las Vegas the week after UFC 257 to make a final decision on whether he’ll fight again.
“He’s corning on Wednesday and then he leaves. He leaves and goes to Vegas. So I will have the fight and fly home on Sunday and I’ll see him again in Vegas,” White said during the UFC Fight Island 7 Post-fight Press Conference.
“Those fights will have played out. He and I are going to hook up and go to dinner in Vegas and talk again and we’ll make a decision. One thing that he did say is, ‘I’ll never hold up the division,'” said the UFC president.
Whether or not Nurmagomedov competes again will be determined in his dinner meeting with White in Las Vegas. The decision will ultimately be Nurmagomedov’s.
“He just said that he won’t hold up the division, so he’s either going to fight somebody, or he’s going to walk away,” White said.
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