Contrary to speculation that Khabib Nurmagomedov will not be back until November in New York City, UFC president Dana White believes the lightweight champion will return two months earlier.
Nurmagomedov, who was last seen beating the brakes off of Conor McGregor en route to a dominant submission win and first-ever title defense at UFC 229 this past October, is currently serving his nine-month suspension for brawling with Team McGregor after his victory.
Remember, after Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) decided to suspend Khabib and fine him a whopping $500,000, as well as suspending his fellow teammates one year each for their role in UFC 229’s brawl, the UFC champion promised to never fight in Vegas again. Nurmagomedov then targeted November for his own Octagon return stating that he wasn’t going to fight until his teammates were eligible to return.
“He’ll be back in September,” White said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “It’s one of the things with him anyways, he’s on suspension and then he doesn’t fight during Ramadan. That puts him at September.”
If White is able to change Khabib’s original plan and get the undefeated Russian champion back in the cage sooner rather than later that’s great news for the lightweight division. It will offer the roster the clarity it deserves as current featherweight champion Max Holloway and lightweight contender Dustin Poirier battle it out for the interim 155-pound crown next month at UFC 236. That bout was scheduled following the suspension of Khabib, who is now expected to face the winner this fall to unify the belts.
Fight fans initially thought that UFC would try to book the rematch between Khabib and McGregor considering the first fight pulled in 2.4 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys, but McGregor unexpectedly retired from MMA earlier this week amidst legal trouble in both Miami and Ireland. So as of now, the biggest rematch in combat history will be put on hold.