Fuelled by a personal back-and-forth ahead of their record-breaking UFC 229 headliner back in October of 2018, UFC president, Dana White has questioned how if given the opportunity, one could possibly turn their back on a potential re-run of 155-pound arch-rivals, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov, and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor.
Scoring the first successful defence of his lightweight championship, Khabib met with McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada in a bad-blooded affair. Dominating the former two-weight world champion with smothering wrestling, and even scoring a surprising second-round, overhand knockdown, Khabib eventually submitted the Dubliner with a fourth-round neck crank.
Leaping over the Octagon fence in pursuit of McGregor’s training partner, Bellator MMA welterweight grappler, Dillon Danis, a brawl erupted between both corners, with members of Khabib’s section storming the Octagon, swinging punches toward a retaliating McGregor.
Linked with a rematch against McGregor ever since their first encounter, Khabib, along with Dominance MMA leader, Ali Abdelaziz have continued to distance themselves from a re-run with the Straight Blast Gym trainee.
In two Octagon outings since his win over McGregor, Khabib, who announced his retirement from professional competition back in October at UFC 254 — has submitted both Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.
Snapping a lengthy hiatus following his title challenge loss to Khabib, McGregor returned to the Octagon and winner’s enclosure in spectacular fashion at UFC 246 in January last year, knocking out Donald Cerrone in just forty-seconds.
Set to headline UFC 257 in just two week’s time against the above-mentioned, Poirier in a rematch six-years after their initial featherweight pairing, McGregor has the opportunity to reinsert himself firmly into title contention.
According to promotional president, White, if the Dubliner overcomes American Top Team staple, Poirier for a second time, the next logical step for the 32-year-old would be a matchup with Khabib, as long as he maintains a consistent schedule and focus in 2021.
“Listen, whatever you think of Conor, (McGregor) personally, Conor McGregor is one of the — not only one of the best in the world, (he’s) one of the best to ever do it,” White said during a recent sitdown with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto. “And right now, he’s as focused as he’s ever been, and I don’t know if this is gonna be the same Conor after the (Dustin) Poirier fight.“
“Like you said, Conor goes like this (moves hand in a wave motion),” White said. “But if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Khabib (Nurmagomedov) vs. Conor again.“
As for Khabib’s announced retirement, White claimed that if he’s unable to entice the undefeated Dagestani back to the Octagon, a win for McGregor would likely put him in pole position to face off against another top-contender for a vacant strap.
“(The) division’s stacked with tough guys,” White said. “And the reality is if Khabib does retire, then whoever the top-ranked guy is at the time, will end up facing Conor, if Conor beats Poirier, and would fight for the title I’m sure.