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If Khabib Nurmagomedov is nearing the end of his mixed martial arts career, a blockbuster fight once dismissed might have new life.
Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, recently told UFC Arabia that the lightweight champion intends to retire with a career mark of 30-0, which would honor the wishes of the fighter’s late father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. That would mean that the Dagestani star, currently sitting at 28-0, would have two more fights left before calling it a career.
One of those bouts appears to still be a lightweight championship unification bout with Justin Gaethje, who claimed the interim crown with a win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
Obviously he has got this Gaethje fight that is a done deal,” UFC president Dana White said in an interview with ESPN. “He is fighting Gaethje next. Then I don’t know who his last fight would be to make him 30. I don’t know. . . No clue, I mean listen, at the end of the day, the Conor McGregor fight - I know Conor has always wanted that fight since the last one, I mean that is the fight to make. I don’t know. Again, we will see how this all plays out. But, the Gaethje fight is absolutely, positively the next fight for him.”
If Nurmagomedov is successful there, the final bout of his UFC career could prove to be interesting. The lightweight champion has long eyed Georges St. Pierre as a legacy-defining fight, but the Canadian star revealed during his retirement press conference that talks to put that matchup together ultimately fell apart.
We tried to organize the fight with Khabib, I know Khabib want it and I want it, but the UFC had other plans,” St. Pierre said. “To the point where I am in my career, for me it’s more taking one fight at a time instead of being there for several fights, and the way the business works … if they promote someone, they want to keep him somewhere … it’s like an investment.”
Although White hasn’t been a big proponent of the bout in the past, he would be willing to revisit the possibility to honor Nurmagomedov’s wishes if it came to that.
Sure. Yeah, it’s the last fight of his career,” White said. “The guys been great. He’s been great to the company, he’s been great for the sport, and, I like Khabib Nurmagomedov a lot. I would do anything Khabib wanted to do.”
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