Yesterday, Khabib Nurmagomedov stated that he believes the winner of Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier will fight for the UFC Lightweight Championship next.
But during the same interview, Nurmagomedov revealed that he is committed to retiring from mixed martial arts and has no interest in returning to the UFC.
So, why hasn’t the UFC vacated Nurmagomedov’s title? And why is that title not on the line for McGregor vs. Poirier at UFC 257 on Jan. 23?
In a video posted to The Body Lock’s YouTube channel, Patrick Auger and Matthew Wells shared their opinions on the matter and both agreed that a title of some significance will be up for grabs on the day.
Wells believes that if Nurmagomedov keeps saying he’s retired, the belt should already be available for McGregor and Poirier. He says that the UFC will do everything they can to make this a title fight regardless of what Nurmagomedov intends to do. If Nurmagomedov expresses interest in returning, there’s a chance that the promotion makes McGregor vs. Poirier an interim title fight to add some significance to the UFC 257 main event.
Auger shares the same beliefs. He feels like there isn’t much the UFC can do to bring Nurmagomedov back because nothing that Dana White or the promotion can promise should trump the promise that was made to Nurmagomedov’s mother. Because White is fighting hard for Nurmagomedov to return, an interim title allows the promotion to continue communicating with the lightweight champion and plan for his potential return.
Auger does raise another interesting point, however, stating that a title has significant monetary implications, particularly on Poirier’s side. Contractually, a belt traditionally leads to a higher pay, and in this case, the addition of a title would need to bring in more fans and revenue than would additionally be paid to the fighters. He questions whether a McGregor fight really needs a title on the line to draw in a large audience.
Wells responds by saying that there isn’t much to be intrigued about heading into UFC 257. A title would absolutely make this fight more significant.