Khabib Nurmagomedov is remaining coy on his UFC future, refusing to rule out a return to the Octagon, but does expect the winner of Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier to be the next lightweight champion.
The Russian remains the 155lb champion, despite announcing his retirement from professional MMA after beating Justin Gaethje in October.
UFC president Dana White has left the belt in the talons of the Eagle and is hoping to convince him to fight at least once more for the organisation.
Khabib’s professional record stands at a perfect 29-0 and White believes he will be able to tempt the champion into strapping the gloves on once more and try to secure his 30th victory.
However, the Dagestani has suggested that the winner of McGregor and Poirier on 23 January will be the next lightweight champion.
‘My belt will be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor,’ Khabib told Match.tv via RT.
It is not crystal clear whether Khabib meant Conor or Dustin would go on to fight for the title, and who that would be against if they did, whether that would be him or another contender.
He may be retired currently, but Khabib is certainly not bullish on his future, knowing full well that White will come to him with a very tempting offer to fight again.
‘Dana and I are in touch and did not discuss the moment with the vacant belt,’ said the Eagle. ‘This is because they want me to continue. This is clear.
‘I have been in the (UFC) for nine years and have not lost. I have a story, a big fan base. I don’t blame them, and their desire is understandable. They persuade. I will not hide, but this is not surprising.
‘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. I would not like to have the likelihood of my return.’
There has long been talk of a bout between Khabib and former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is also currently retired from the sport.
The UFC legend teased fans that there could be news of a fight coming by tweeting a picture of him in training with the caption: ‘New year. new team, announcement tomorrow #zeroregrets.’
By the close of UFC 257 on 23 January we will have a clearer picture of the lightweight picture, with the meeting between Khabib and White concluded and the bout between McGregor and Poirier complete.
There is also a fight between Michael Chandler and Dan Hooker targeted for that event and if Chandler emerges victorious, he will be in with a chance of fighting for the belt in 2021.
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