UFC president Dana White has confirmed Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his lightweight title against interim champion Justin Gaethje on October 24.

White confirmed while speaking with CNN that Nurmagomedov will return to action later this year after tragically losing his father earlier this month after the 57-year-old contracted the coronavirus and suffered health issues and sadly passed away after months battling his illnesses.

“It’s been very rough on him,” White told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell. “His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a very close relationship and it was very hard on him.”

Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to face Tony Ferguson in April, but the undefeated Russian was forced out of the bout due to travel issues brought on by the global pandemic.

Gaethje stepped up on late notice to dominate and stop Tony Ferguson in the fifth round on May 9 at UFC 249 to claim the interim title at lightweight. He was originally thought to be unifying the division with Nuramgomedov this summer but news of the death Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s death has pushed the fight back.

According to White the fight will still go ahead in 2020 and the date set is October 24 at a venue to be confirmed, he said.

“It’s going to happen, tell you right here right now. That fight is going to happen, October 24.

Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought since tapping Dustin Poirier inside three rounds to defend his title at UFC 242 in September 2019. Yesterday, he was pictured for the first time in training since the death of his father. If White is correct the Russian will now enter camp a full camp ahead of his fight in a few months’ time.

Do you think Dana White will be able to pull of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje on October 24?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.