KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV will make a sensational return to the UFC later this year – but only if one of the lightweights competing at UFC 257 impresses him.
The reigning lightweight champion retired from MMA last October following his UFC 254 victory over Justin Gaethje.
Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from mixed martial arts last October – but could make a return[/caption]
Khabib demolished Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018[/caption]
But less than three months after bringing the curtain down on his unblemished career, the Russian has seemingly reversed his decision to call it a day.
White revealed details of his recent chat with Nurmagomedov on Saturday night, saying: “I’m going to watch the two lightweight fights at 257.
“If these guys do something spectacular and make me want to come back and fight I’ll fight.”
UFC 257 will take place a week on Saturday at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
The promotion’s first pay-per-view card of the year will be headlined by a lightweight rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
Another tasty 155lb affair serves as the card’s co-main event of the evening, where Dan Hooker meets Michael Chandler.
Should either of the quartet make a statement in Abu Dhabi, they could soon end up standing across from The Eagle.
Nurmagomedov, 29-0, brought the curtain down on his career after promising his mother he wouldn’t compete without his late father – Abdulmanap – by his side.
Khabib Nurmagomedov held talks with Dana White in Abu Dhabi on Friday night[/caption]
White was confident of convincing the pride of Dagestan to fight again, telling ESPN: “I’m obviously meeting with him because I think that he should fight again.
“Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje [in October].
“Look at what he’s done to every opponent he has faced.
“I think he should fight again and I’m going to press him as hard as I can for one more.”
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Nurmgomedov’s head coach, Javier Mendez, expected White to make the pound-for-pound king an extremely tasty offer.
The American Kickboxing Academy chief told SunSport earlier this week: “I think Dana has it in his mind to give him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Mendez added: “Let’s face it, how many times has Dana failed at doing something he wanted to do? Not much. Dana does what he says.”
Nurmagomedov’s willingness to face all four men competing at UFC 257 would suggest he’s received his mother’s blessing to return.
It also paves the way for a blockbuster rematch with McGregor, whom he fought at UFC 229 in October 2018.
Nurmagomedov scored a fourth-round submission victory over the Irishman, who has been hellbent on getting a rematch with the Dagestani.
McGregor, 32, reckons Nurmagomedov retired because he’s scared to share the cage with him again, telling ESPN: “I think he’s afraid to fight me.
“That’s for damn sure. And I don’t blame him. I know exactly what to face.
“I fought the best of him that night, he fought the worst of me on that night. He knows it, I know it, his team knows it.
“I’ve the answer to destroy that man. He can pull the wool over people’s eyes for only so long.”