UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov may be ready to return sooner than most people anticipated.
Nurmagomedov was originally supposed to defend his lightweight title against number-one contender Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in April. Then, the coronavirus intervened, stranding Khabib in his home country of Dagestan and forcing the UFC to turn to Justin Gaethje as a replacement for Ferguson. The announcement was met with great disappointment as Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson is the most anticipated bout in MMA history, having now been cancelled on five separate occasions, and because with the holy month of Ramadan now taking place, it seemed that the lightweight champion would not be able to defend his title until late summer or early fall. Even UFC President Dana White had suggested a title unification bout between Khabib and this weekend’s winner would not take place until the September or October, meaning the lightweight belt would have gone undefended for a full year.
Well, not so fast.
Yesterday, ESPN’s MMA Instagram posted a video of Chael Sonnen talking about the lightweight title picture and saying Khabib would not return until September at the earliest. Not long after, the lightweight champion responded to the post, disputing Sonnen’s timeline and saying that he could be ready to go as soon as July.
“I can fight anytime, Ramadan finish 23 may. July I’m gonna be ready. Stop talking about me, this is coronatime, when Khabibtime come I smash all of them.”
In the lead up to UFC 249, Nurmagomedov has received substantial backlash for withdrawing from the event, most notable from Tony Ferguson who directly called for the lightweight champion to retire from the sport. A quick return could smooth some of those ruffled feathers though, especially if Ferguson manages to get past Gaethje this weekend. Btu even if “El Cucuy” does claim his second interim title on Saturday, that’s no guarantee a another booking of Khabib vs. Tony will be any more successful than the previous five. Dana White himself has previously admitted that he’s “afraid what will happen if we try to make that fight happen again.” Then again, you know the old adage: “Sixth time’s the charm.”
Nose. Justin Gaethje invites Tony Ferguson to break his nose, calls UFC 249 matchup ‘a recipe for disaster’.
Response. Stipe Miocic breaks silence after Dana White hints at ultimatum: ‘I have never ducked anyone’.
Vegas, baby. Dana White: UFC headed to Vegas on May 23, NSAC still following governor’s plan.
The A-Side Live Chat.
Conor just posted his first fight.
This is a real journey.
Fights Gone By. Discussing the key fights at UFC 249.
Heavy Hands. Breaking down the two title fights at UFC 249.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Dana yelling at you about the event this weekend.
I want to fight DC. It’s going to happen period. Im going to give my fans what they want to see. My management has been working on dates with UFC. Right now I’m doing what the Governor DeWine is advising and am working as a first responder. I can’t control a global pandemic.— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) May 6, 2020
My head coach can’t open his gym by law right now. I don’t hold myself higher than any other person in regards to what I’m allowed to do. Ohio is under orders until May 29th. The second the gym can open, we begin camp. Plain and simple. I have never ducked anyone.— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) May 6, 2020
I’ve never turned down a fight, and I never will. Strap #6 coming soon #SM— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) May 6, 2020
May 23rd— Tyron T-Wood Woodley (@TWooodley) May 6, 2020
Got a room filled with over a decade of undefeated records, win streaks, hype trains and amazing world former champions. Question is who’s next? pic.twitter.com/6Q7LigX2tG— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 6, 2020
Deserves it but won’t get it.
#1 contender fight next or title shot is the only option https://t.co/EA92d11z91— Leon 'Rocky' Edwards (@Leon_edwardsmma) May 7, 2020
The Ultimate Fighter being brought back means only one thing...— Darren Till (@darrentill2) May 6, 2020
Me X Adelasagne TUF coaches.
Thanks for reading, stay safe, and see y’all tomorrow.
Who wins this weekend?
This poll is closed
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.