Khabib Nurmagomedov is rumored to be making his long-awaited return to the Octagon to defend his lightweight belt against interim champion Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7 and according to his manager, he’s looking for a short turnaround before his next fight.
“The Eagle” is currently serving a nine-month suspension for his role in the ugly post-fight brawl at UFC 229 where he jumped into the crowd to attack Conor McGregor’s team mate Dillon Danis, which sparked an all-in brawl between both camps.
During Nurmagomedov’s suspension, a new title challenger emerged in the form of Poirier and according to the Dagestani’s manager Ali Abdelaziz, Nurmagomedov wants a quick turnaround from that fight, ideally defending his lightweight belt again before the end of the year, and then wants a fight with former welterweight and middleweight champ Georges St. Pierre.
“He gave me very specific instructions,” Abdelaziz told ESPN. “He said he wants to fight Sept. 7 and again in December. And if [former welterweight champion] Georges St-Pierre can figure things out with the UFC by April, that’s the deal. He would like that fight in April.”
Abdelaziz said his fighter wants to keep the division moving as there is a bottleneck of top contenders waiting for their chance to fight for gold.
“The lightweight division has a lot of contenders, and we need to keep the division going,” Abdelaziz said. “Khabib has done this before. He fought [Edson Barboza], Al [Iaquinta] and Conor [McGregor] in less than one year [from December 2017 to October 2018]. If it can be Georges in April, he would love that fight. If not, it can be any contender.”
Nurmagomedov’s last opponent in McGregor at UFC 229 went public in his desire for a rematch although both the champ and his manager believes he’ll need to earn his stripes before getting another shot.
“To be honest, Conor is going to have to go out there and fight somebody like Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson or ‘Cowboy’ [Donald Cerrone],” Abdelaziz said. “He’s not a worthy enough opponent right now. That’s the feeling from all of us, as a team.”