Return of 'The Eagle': UFC boss Dana White confirms timeframe for Khabib Nurmagomedov's UFC comeback
Nurmagomedov, who hasn't competed since a submission victory against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi last September, looks set to be out of action until at least the same point this year after White confirmed to ESPN's Brett Okamoto that the promotion is targeting a September or October return for their reigning 155lb champion.Also on rt.com 'Pick up the phone': Khabib's manager tells Georges St-Pierre he can make Khabib-GSP superfight happen
Of course, Khabib had been scheduled to defend his lightweight crown against Tony Ferguson in one of the most anticipated fights in mixed martial arts history this month before difficulties surrounding restriction of movement during the coronavirus pandemic forced Nurmagomedov's withdrawal from the bout. It was the FIFTH time that the fight has fallen apart in recent years.
In place of that fight, the UFC opted to target another lightweight contender, Justin Gaethje, to step in against Ferguson on the same April 18 date intended for the Khabib-Ferguson fight. But White was then forced to pull the plug on the event after calls from senior executives from both ESPN and its parent company Disney.
White: Khabib will be back in September or October.— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) April 24, 2020
Dana White tells @bokamotoESPN that they are targeting September or October for Khabib Nurmagomedov's return.He also confirms that UFC 249 will take place in Florida and that social distancing and screening will be implemented.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) April 24, 2020
This fight is going to be amazing.But Tony should just chill until september and fight Khabib when he's back instead of risking his win streak.....again— GarryM (@GarrrryM) April 24, 2020
Undaunted, White has confirmed that the Ferguson-Gaethje bout will take place in Florida on May 9 with the 155lb interim title up for grabs – with the winner almost certainly facing Nurmagomedov in September or October.
Part of the reason for the delay in Khabib's return to action is understood to be his strict observance of Ramadan, which began yesterday and runs until the evening of May 23.Also on rt.com Easy as 1-2-3: UFC announces return to action with THREE events in EIGHT DAYS in Florida
Now Gaethje finds himself thrust into an enviable position in the UFC's lightweight fold. A win against Ferguson would see him play the ultimate spoiler role in removing, possibly forever, the chances of seeing Nurmagomedov and Ferguson fight.
A Tony Ferguson win on May 9th? Well, that will put the Khabib-Ferguson train very much back on the rails.