Dana White: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s UFC return hinges on lightweight division

The door is open for Khabib Nurmagomedov to return to the UFC.

Dana White said Saturday the undefeated UFC lightweight champion may make a return to the octagon with the promotion if he’s impressed by the lightweight division after UFC 257.

“He’s accomplished everything he set out to accomplish. He thought that (Charles) Oliveira looked really good in his fight against Tony Ferguson. Next Saturday, we have the (Conor) McGregor-(Dustin) Poirier fight and (Michael) Chandler and (Dan) Hooker on there,” White said.

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“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 a 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, if these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them.”

Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. He said he gave everything he had to the sport and would step away. Also weighing on him was the death of his father earlier in 2020 from coronavirus.

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Earlier in the week, McGregor tried to poke Nurmagomedov a bit more. The two have had one of the more heated rivalries in UFC. Nurmagomedov beat McGregor in their first fight.

“How you could walk away at this stage is baffling to me but to each to their own,” he told The Mac Life about his rival deciding to retire. “There’s so many amazing fights out there. Even the carry-on around the Tony [Ferguson] situation, like I don’t care about nothing. You’re scheduled to fight a man. No matter what. Fights must take place. You can’t just scurry away from bouts.

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“It’s been the hallmark of his approach. I was not surprised to see him walk away or scurry away, I should say. It is what it is. We carry on.”

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