It has been less than one week since undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the sport, but UFC president Dana White has already come out and stated he believes Nurmagomedov (29-0) will fight again.
Speaking to CBS Sports Radio on Thursday, White said he has been in contact with Nurmagomedov since the fighter’s emotional title fight against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last weekend in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and he has gotten the impression the 32-year-old’s retirement won’t stick.
“Khabib and I have been talking,” White told “The Zach Gelb Show.” “He was completely emotional that night when he got through that fight. I have a feeling that he might go for 30-0.
“I think that he’s not going to retire. His dad wanted him to get to 30-0, and I think he wants to honor his dad’s wish.”
Representatives for Nurmagomedov did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Nurmagomedov defeated Gaethje via second-round TKO on Saturday to unify the UFC’s 155-pound championship. It was his first appearance since his father, Abdulmanap, died in July due to heart complications made worse by the coronavirus.
Nurmagomedov competed at UFC 254 despite a broken toe and a bout with the mumps, which caused him to be hospitalized during training camp. He said he promised his mother it would be the final fight of his career.
“There is no way I’m going to come here without my father,” Nurmagomedov said. “It was my first time, after what happened with my father. When UFC call me about Justin, I talk with my mother [for] three days. She don’t want me to go fight without father. I promise her it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this.”
In 2019, Abdulmanap did tell Russian news outlets he wanted Khabib to reach the mark of 30-0 and retire undefeated. He also mentioned a potential bout with UFC legend and former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre, who is retired, has expressed interest in coming back for one more fight against Nurmagomedov.
ESPN ranked Nurmagomedov the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.