While the UFC’s primary focus in January is a trio of cards in Abu Dhabi, culminating with McGregor’s Jan. 23 fight with Dustin Poirier, there will be additional business to handle behind the scenes.
UFC President Dana White plans to meet with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to see if he can coax the undefeated Russian out of retirement for at least one more fight.
There are still a lot of moving parts, but White said on Wednesday that if McGregor wins and he can convince Nurmagomedov to return, then matching them up for a second fight would be an ideal situation.
“When I fly out there, Khabib’s going to be there, too,” White said during an appearance on the Shout! Podcast. “So I’m going to meet with Khabib while I’m there.
“In a perfect world, if Conor wins this fight, I would love to see the rematch with him and Khabib. It’s the fight that makes sense.”
Nurmagomedov retired following a submission win over Justin Gaethje in October that improved his record to a perfect 29-0. Just days afterward, White sounded confident that the UFC lightweight champ – who has not been stripped of the belt since announcing his retirement – would compete again.
White hopes to solidify that position when they meet in Abu Dhabi.
In their previous meeting in 2018, Nurmagomedov dispatched McGregor with a fourth-round rear naked choke after a fairly dominant showcase for the majority of the fight. Ever since that time, McGregor has been gunning for a rematch, though Nurmagomedov has shown almost no interest in facing the Irish superstar for a second time.
The first pay-per-view featuring McGregor and Nurmagomedov ended up as the best-selling card in UFC history with a reported 2.4 million buys.
Before White can pitch Nurmagomedov on that idea, however, McGregor has to get through Poirier on Jan. 23.
“Poirier has wanted this fight so bad since the first one, and obviously neither one of these guys are the same fighters they were the first time they fought,” White said of the 2014 fight where McGregor earned a first-round knockout.
“It’s a very interesting fight. Conor’s been off for a while, but if you look at his training right now he looks damn good. He’s in great shape. Poirier’s in great shape. Could be a fun one.”