Dana White has revealed that UFC lightweight champion will return this year after all, with a title fight against Justin Gaethje now confirmed for October 24th.
“It’s going to happen, I tell you right here, right now,” White told CNN. “That fight’s going to happen: Khabib vs. Gaethje, October 24.”
Doubts had been cast about whether Nurmagomedov would return to action in 2020 after his father and coach Abdulmanap passed away recently due to complications arising from Covid-19, and its something White acknowledges has hit the champion hard.
“It’s been very rough on him. His father was a hero to him. He loved his father. They had a very, very close relationship, and it was very hard on him.”
The upcoming fight will be Nurmagomedov’s first of 2020, but in all fairness he’s earned the right to have time off after amassing an incredible 28-0 career record to date, while defeating the likes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta along the way.
One major lightweight star he hasn’t faced yet though is Gaethje, who has been in fearsome form of late, racking up three first-round finishes by strikes against James Vick, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone, before then going on to seize the interim lightweight title with a fifth round TKO stoppage against Tony Ferguson back in May.