UFC Rumors: Title Fight Set As Khabib Nurmagomedov Retires

Khabib Nurmagomedov poses with his UFC lightweight belt.
Gettyimages | Steven Ryan
MMA

UFC president Dana White said undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has no intention of returning to the octagon. But who will replace the heavyweight champion? Scroll down to see the title fight White has set up after meeting with Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas on March 18.

White had held out hope that Numagomedov would fight again, but the champion will remain retired with an unblemished 29-0 record.

"Khabib is retired and doesn’t wanna hold up the division," White told ESPN. "Tonight was our final meeting and he is retired."

Nurmagomedov Ended Career In Dramatic Show

Khabib Nurmagomedov strikes Justin Gaethje during their October fight.
Gettyimages | Handout

Nurmagomedov initially announced his retirement in October after beating Justin Gaethje in one of the more dramatic scenes in mixed martial arts history.

Nurmagomedov had lost his father, Abdulmanap, to complications from COVID-19 four months before facing Gaethje. After winning via second-round technical submission, Nurmagomedov lay his gloves on the mat as the stoic Russian broke down in tears in the middle of the octagon.

“Today I want to say it was my last fight,” Nurmagomedov said. “No way I’m gonna come here without my father.

“It was first time after what happened with my father. When UFC called me with Justin, I talked with my mother three days. She don’t (want me) to go fight without father, but I promised her it’s gonna be my last fight. And if I give my word, I have to follow this.”

Nurmagomedov Asks Fans To Accept His Decision

UFC President Dana White (left) met with Khabib Nurmagomedov (middle) in Las Vegas last week.
Khabib Nurmagomedov | Instagram

White has been trying to coax Nurmagomedov back to the octagon but said he will end that pursuit after the two met in Vegas. 

Nurmagomedov retired with a 13-0 record in the UFC, including three straight title defenses against Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.

"Dana - I'll never forget your attitude towards me, my father did not forget and my sons will remember you," Nurmagomedov said. "Today there was a real conversation between real men."

"Also thank you to all team, sparing partners and all fans. I hope you will accept my decision and understand me."

Conor McGregor Takes Parting Shot

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor stare each other down.
Gettyimages | Steven Ryan

Longtime rival McGregor couldn't resist taking a parting shot at his nemesis on Friday.

Nurmagomedov and McGregor were infamously involved in a 2018 incident in which McGregor and some associates attempted to attack Nurmagomedov at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The two later met in the octagon, with Nurmagomedov successfully defending his title by fourth-round submission.

"Happy retirement kid, smell ya later," McGregor wrote on Instagram. "Never forget who came in the game and made ye. Straight from my big Irish balls. Remember folks, if you hate cutting weight so much, all you have to do is move up a division."

Who Will Take Nurmagomedov's Title?

UFC president Dana White speaks at a media conference.
Gettyimages | Zhe Ji

White is finally addressing the plan for the lightweight division now that the champion has officially retired. Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will fight for the vacant title at UFC 262 on May 15, according to multiple reports.

Poirier, Gaethje, Chandler and Oliveira are the four highest-ranked lightweight fighters in the world. Poirier shrugged off a potential fight against Chandler after defeating McGregor by second-round TKO in January, saying Chandler hasn't done enough to earn a fight against him. Oliveira also turned down a non-title fight against Chandler earlier this year.

It won't involve Nurmagomedov or McGregor, but the UFC has two fighters willing to hit the octagon for their shot at the title.