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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov wants to fight three times over the next year, including fight with Georges St-Pierre

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After sitting out for nearly a year, it sounds like UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is looking to be very active when he returns.

After winning the UFC lightweight title last April at UFC 223, Nurmagomedov defended his belt for the first time against Conor McGregor at UFC 229, throttling the former two-division champion and solidifying his claim as the UFC’s top lightweight. However, after his win, Nurmagomedov jumped the fence and incited a brawl that resulted in him receiving a 9 month suspension and his teammates receiving one-year suspensions. Nurmagomedov’s suspension ends in July, and though Khabib previously said he intended to sit out a full year in solidarity with his teammates, Dustin Poirier’s interim lightweight title win at UFC 236 has lit a fire under the undisputed champion, and now he’s looking to fight two more times before the year is out.

“He gave me very specific instructions,” Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz told ESPN recently. “He said he wants to fight Sept. 7 and again in December. And if Georges St-Pierre can figure things out with the UFC by April, that’s the deal. He would like that fight in April.”

Khabib has been targeting a legacy fight with Georges St-Pierre for quite some time, however, the former welterweight and middleweight champion announced his retirement from MMA in December. St-Pierre had shown interest in fighting Nurmagomedov but decided to call it a career when the UFC was not supportive of the idea. It’s clear that Nurmagomedov isn’t taking that retirement 100 percent seriously, but in the meantime, he has no shortage of lightweight contenders to reckon with, starting with Dustin Poirier, who he is expected to face later this year.

“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.”

Aside from Poirier, the lightweight division is still chock full of legitimate contenders to choose from. Tony Ferguson was the presumptive next challenger for Nurmagomedov until personal issues prevented him from fighting, while Justin Gaethje and Donald Cerrone have moved themselves into prime position as well with recent dominant performances. Then, of course, there is the ever present shadow of a rematch with Conor McGregor. McGregor and Nurmagomedov have continued and escalated their beef in recent months, and a rematch between the two is likely the biggest fight the UFC can make right now. But according to Abdelaziz, Conor needs to pick up a win before he can re-enter the conversation.

“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.”

Nurmagomedov is expected to defend his title against Poirier at UFC 242 on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi.


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Ramadan starts today, so for those who observe, Ramadan Mubarak.

Thanks for reading. See y’all tomorrow.



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