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23 May, 2019 11:32

Path cleared for Khabib to headline UFC Abu Dhabi after teammates’ suspensions commuted

Path cleared for Khabib to headline UFC Abu Dhabi after teammates’ suspensions commuted

A hurdle which had delayed Khabib Nurmagomedov’s participation at UFC Abu Dhabi in September has been cleared after the Nevada Athletic Commission reduced the suspensions of two of the UFC lightweight champion’s teammates.

Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, the latter being the cousin of the undefeated Russian fighter, were both suspended for a period of one year for their part in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl following Nurmagomedov’s victory against Conor McGregor last October.

Khabib was handed a nine month suspension, though he had the option of having that reduced by three months if he agreed to take part in an anti-bullying public service announcement – an offer which was refused by the Russian, who intimated that he would remain in solidarity with his teammates and not compete again until they were eligible to return.

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At a meeting of the Nevada Athletic Commission on Wednesday, it was agreed that Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov’s suspensions would be reduced by 35 days, per the recommendation of executive director Bob Bennett. He stated that the two Russian fighter’s objections that they weren’t offered the same opportunity to reduce their suspensions as Khabib was “fair and equitable.”

During Khabib’s absence Dustin Poirier defeated Max Holloway to claim the interim 155lb title, setting up an undisputed title tilt between the two lightweight champions which had been heavily-rumored to take place at the UFC’s upcoming event in Abu Dhabi on September 7.

The reduced suspensions allows Khabib to compete without contradicting his previous statements regarding his teammates. Both Tukhugov and Nurmagomedov have already paid $25,000 (€22,400) fines and have agreed to complete 10 hours of community service at a youth facility of their choosing.

Tukhugov, who is signed to the UFC, hasn’t competed since a defeat to Renato Moicano three years ago, while Abubakar Nurmagomedov drew his most recent bout in the Professional Fighters League last October.

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