Khabib Nurmagomedov: Win over Justin Gaethje is my last fight
Reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov believes his title will be taken by the winner of Conor McGregor’s bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the sport in October after defeating Justin Gaethje, with the Russian hinting that the the title is now vacant.
This will be the first time that McGregor fights in the lightweight division since his lost to Nurmagomedov in 2018. In fact, the Irishman has not won at the division since 2016, when he defeated Eddie Alvarez.
His bout against Poirier, a rematch of the 2014 encounter which McGregor won, will be his first for 12 months, with his last fight coming when he triumped over Donald Cerrone in the welterweight division.
McGregor became lightweight champion when he beat Alvarez, but failed to defend his crown.
And Nurmagomedov made it clear he believes his reign as champion will be over in January when McGregor returns to UFC, even placing his former rival among the top fighters in the lightweight division.
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“Top three [lightweight] fighters right now?” Nurmagomedov said to Match TV, via RT.
“Poirier, McGregor and [Islam] Makhachev. He is not in the top five yet, but those are the best fighters.
“My belt will be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor.”
Ever since he called time on his fighting career, Nurmagomedov has been linked with a return to the octagon, with UFC president Dana White sounding confident of his ability to convince the Russian to come back.
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But Nurmagomedov moved to quash rumours of a return, insisting he could not be convinced to fight again.
“I talked with my mother for three days. She didn’t want me to go fight without my father,” Nurmagomedov said after defeating Gaethje.
“I promised her, ‘It’s going to be my last fight,’ and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.”
That did not stop White from telling reporters that fans would “find out how persuasive” he can be and that he’d back himself “every time” to bring about Nurmagomedov’s return.
But while White plans to meet the champion in January, the fighter himself has not yet been convinced by the terms that White is offering.
“I don’t blame them and their desire is understandable. They persuade, I will not hide, but this is not surprising,” he said.
“They offer conditions and fighters, but it’s hard to surprise fighters. I finished half of the top 10 ahead of schedule.
“And so yes, I repeat: there are conditions and offers. In a couple of weeks, Dana and I will discuss all the points.”
Shortly after the Match TV interview, Nurmagomedov’s manager did move to deny the talk that his fighter expects the UFC to name a new lightweight champion after McGregor faces Poirier.
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