With UFC 257 just a few days away, what is the current status of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov?
“The Eagle” retired from mixed martial arts following his second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje in their UFC 254 title fight in October.
Nurmagomedov notably revealed he had promised his mother that would be his last outing inside the Octagon following the tragic death of his father a few months prior.
However, UFC president Dana White would later state that Nurmagomedov’s father’s dream was for his son to go 30-0 before calling it a day. He has since repeatedly stated his belief that Nurmagomedov would return for one last fight as a meeting between the pair was set for this past Friday.
White would reveal Nurmagomedov’s fighting status the next day during UFC Fight Island 7.
— UFC (@ufc) January 16, 2021
“Basically, the way he feels right now is, he’s accomplished everything he set out to accomplish,” White said. “He thought that Oliveira looked really good in his fight against Tony Ferguson. So next Saturday, we have the McGregor-Poirier fight and Chandler-Hooker on there.
“His words to me were, ‘I’m gonna watch this fight.’ He said, ‘I would never tie up the division, hold the belt, 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.’ So I have the feeling that if somebody delivers, it could be on the co-main event or the main event and like I said he thought Oliveira looked good. Two fights coming up, Oliveira looked great — if these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them.”
So it seemed Nurmagomedov was still active and looking for someone to entice him into a return. Or so it seemed.
The Dagestan native recently spoke to Sport24 and contradicted White’s words as while he did state something special would have to happen for him to return, fighting was not in his plans at moment.
“Something has to happen for me to come back,” Nurmagomedov said. “…And if we talk about all my business projects — I have so much to do that is planned and fights are not in these plans. … This [fighting] is what I have been doing all my life and I will continue to train constantly as well. But if we talk about the fights, they are not part of my plans.
“… My mother is the most precious thing I have left. Come on, you won’t push me to do things that will disappoint my mother. … I don’t even have any plans for the UFC in the near future. I don’t even have thoughts about preparing for the fight. I saw how Umar [Nurmagomedov] was preparing now [for UFC Fight Island 8] and I think: Alhamdulillah I have left it behind.”
For most, this wasn’t a surprise as Nurmagomedov seemed like one of the rare fighters who would stick to his word, especially when it’s a promise to his mother.
That said, it doesn’t explain why Nurmagomedov is yet to vacate his belt or come out and deny White’s repeated claims over the last few months of him competing again.
Regardless, UFC 257 will certainly be an interesting watch to see if any of the lightweight contenders competing do manage to impress much like Max Holloway did last weekend.
UFC 257 takes place Saturday night and is headlined by a lightweight bout between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. The PPV can be ordered here for $69.99 while users also have the option of an annual ESPN+ subscription bundled along for $89.98.