Khabib Nurmagomedov could be making his much-awaited octagon return this September to unify the lightweight titles with interim champion, Justin Gaethje.
Undefeated in 28 professional fights, the Russian fighter was scheduled to defend his title against Tony Ferguson at the original UFC 249 card last month. Unfortunately, he needed to withdraw from the event as he would not be able to fly to the United States due to travel ban.
Gaethje stepped in as the replacement and did the unexpected last week in Florida when he destroyed Ferguson in a five-round contest to capture the interim title.
The newly crowned interim champion has expressed his desire to lock horns with Nurmagomedov, saying he wants to represented the US in a showdown against the “Russia’s best.”
Earlier this week, Dana White claimed the unification bout is set to take place on Fight Island, potentially this summer, but now it appears there has been a change of plans for the UFC, with Khabib currently facing a major setback.
Dana White: UFC eyes Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje for 'Fight Island' this summer https://t.co/Og3O3yKBSK
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) May 13, 2020
Multiple reports from Russian media outlets surfaced on Wednesday night, claiming Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov has been placed in medically-induced coma at a hospital in Moscow as he suffers complications from pneumonia.
The UFC president has reached out to the lightweight champion but the Russian has decided to stay mum about his father’s current state.
“Talked to Khabib yesterday, he didn’t even tell me [about his father]. So I guess he was keeping this quiet and wasn’t talking about it,” White shared at the UFC Jacksonville post-fight press conference.
“I talked to him today after I found out. He’s obviously busted up but he’s a very proud guy and likes to act like a man and he’s like ‘you know how much I love my dad.’ This is a tough one.”
White also shared Khabib has committed to face Gaethje in September while Ferguson is expected to take some time off after his shocking loss.
“So yesterday when I talked to [Khabib] — we were going to send out bout agreements yesterday,” White continued.
“There were a couple of weird things that happened yesterday and didn’t end up getting it done apparently.”
“But we’re talking about doing Gaethje vs. Khabib in September. Cause I talked to Khabib yesterday and he said September, ‘I’m ready to go in September.’”
“So we’re gonna do Khabib and Gaethje in September. Tony Ferguson, I’d like to see take some time off after that fight on Saturday. We’ll see what happens this summer with Conor.”
— Rishabh Kevansia (@RKevansia) May 10, 2020
(Featured Image Source: Instagram/ Khabib and UFC)