It appears that, according to his manager, Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to shoot for a record of 30-0 before retiring altogether. Manager Ali Abdelaziz told the news to UFC Arabia, but the final opponent for Nurmagomedov – assuming that he beats Justin Gaethje to advance to a record of 29-0 – is still an unknown.
The fight with Gaethje is set to unify the lightweight belt and determine the true champion, whether that’s the underdog Gaethje or the favorite, Khabib. However, it appears from the outside that the death of his father has impacted his motivation to defend the belt in the future even if he does unify it when the Gaethje fight finally happens.
Khabib will likely go for the 30-0 mark
Instead of aiming to defend the belt for as long as possible, Khabib’s plan is to take one more fight and achieve an undefeated 30-0 record before retirement. According to ESPN, that’s something that UFC boss Dana White is willing to accommodate.
On Monday, White told ESPN that he would support Nurmagomedov’s choice of a final opponent, including former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
White mentioned that one of the possible fights to make is the rematch against Conor McGregor, who pushed for the fight ever since the first match between the two happened. McGregor, however, is retired right now. At least allegedly.
Would a second fight with Khabib be enough to lure McGregor back into the sport? It’s possible, and many would say that it’s likely, but McGregor has a track record of not behaving how experts and fans expect.
We also don’t know yet if Khabib himself is after the rematch. Another fight mentioned by White is one between Khabib and Georges St-Pierre, who has been away from the sport for longer than McGregor has. However, St-Pierre was recently called out by Kamaru Usman, and responded by quickly denying talks about a return.
“I need to stay objective and smart about my decisions, and right now, to come back to fight for the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman and risk it all, there’s more cons than pros. It’s not worth it for me,” St-Pierre said on the matter.
White also said that he’s willing to do anything Khabib wants, when it comes to the matchmaking for his final fight.
Of course, all of this talk about a 30-0 record depends on Khabib winning one more fight against Justin Gaethje in September, and that’s no given. Especially with recent rough events in Khabib’s life, which have potentially played a role in his decision to retire early in the first place.
Once the title unification fight happens, things will truly get interesting for lightweight matchmaking.