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Khabib Nurmagomedov teases September return, though doubtful of pandemic’s end

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UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on Sunday indicated he is looking at similar timeframe for his octagon return. But he also questions whether the pandemic that canceled his long-awaited fight with Tony Ferguson will persist.

On his official Instagram page, Nurmagomedov posted a workout picture and updated his fans on what might be next for his career. Per the social media platform’s translate feature, he wrote, “But until September, it’s not too far, though it’s hard to believe everything will end by September, but yet one serious person said: That in the peaceful time (sic) you have to prepare for war.”

Nurmagomedov has been hunkered down in his native Dagestan since mid-March as a stay-at-home order remains in effect. The Russia government closed its borders earlier this month as the coronavirus spread within the country, and Nurmagomedov announced he wouldn’t be able to travel to UFC 249 with no location in place for the pay-per-view event.

The UFC attempted to save the show by enlisting Justin Gaethje to fight Ferguson for an interim title at Tachi Palace Casino Resort, which resides on tribal land in Lemoore, Calif. But reported political pressure from California Gov. Gavin Newsom prompted UFC broadcast partner ESPN to request the event’s postponement.

Ferguson questioned Nurmagomedov’s will to fight and said he would continue to rack up wins and titles despite the fifth cancelation of the bout. On Saturday, he posted an update where he said he was cutting weight for the ill-fated title bout.

On April 23, Nurmagomedov will wind down for Ramadan, which runs for one month. The lightweight champ does train, but at a reduced pace due to the fasting requirements of the religious observance. He recently told ESPN.com he needs 45 days to recover afterward before can begin training at full speed.

If Nurmagomedov keeps with recent tradition, that would peg August or September as a potential timeframe for his return. Upon announcing his decision to shelter in place, he said UFC event targeted for San Francisco in August was an ideal time for his return.

Nurmagomedov, who most recently defended his title at UFC 242 this past September, has said his fight with Ferguson has to take place to move the lightweight division forward after so many delays to the matchup.