Dana White will do all that he can to convince Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement.
Nurmagomedov retired at UFC 254 in October following his second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight title. “The Eagle” notably claimed he promised his mother it would be his last time inside the Octagon.
However, White believes otherwise as he has long maintained Nurmagomedov could compete again with a meeting between the pair set to take place in Abu Dhabi this month.
“I don’t know how the meeting’s going to go. I’m obviously meeting with him because I believe that he should fight again,” White told ESPN. “I mean, look at what he did to Justin Gaethje. Look at what he’s done to every opponent he has faced. Like when I wanted [Daniel] Cormier to stay, I still think they’re the best in the world. And then there’s always the argument, well, it’s never a bad thing to go out on top.
“And when you talk about money, I mean Khabib has money beyond belief. This guy doesn’t ever have to work again and he still has the ability to do things to make unbelievable money. He’s in a very unique position as a fighter. … I have no idea but I think he should fight again and I’m gonna press him as hard as I can for one more.”
White has long claimed that anyone thinking of retiring should retire. Nurmagomedov, however, is a different case given the many emotions he went through leading up to his win over Gaethje such as the passing of his father.
That’s why White is looking to persuade him to come back and go for a 30-0 record.
“As a promoter, you always want the best guys in the world but at the same time as a promoter, when a guy wants to retire, he probably should if that’s even crossing your mind or thinking,” White said. “The difference with a guy like Khabib is he’s been through so much and losing his dad was such a major blow to him. It’s something that they did together, yet his dad wanted him to hit 30-0.
“But as a fight fan, I want Khabib to fight 10 more.”
It’s no secret who White wants Nurmagomedov to fight should he convince him. While the Dagestan native wants Georges St-Pierre, the UFC head honcho recently stated that a rematch with Conor McGregor would be ideal.
That remains the case as of now.
“No matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor is not only one of the best in the world, one of the best to ever do it,” White added. “Right now he’s as focused as he’s ever been. I don’t know if this is gonna be the same Conor after the Poirier fight. But if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Khabib vs. Conor again?
“The division’s stacked with tough guys and the reality is that if Khabib does retire, then whoever the highest ranked guy is at the time will end up facing Conor if Conor beats Poirier and would fight for the title, I’m sure.”
Do you think White will be able to persuade Nurmagomedov?