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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov open to July return: ‘This is coronatime, when Khabibtime come I smash all of them’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

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.

Khabib Comment from ESPNMMA Instagram

“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’.

Ultimatum. Dana White scoffs at Stipe Miocic’s plans to wait until late this year to make his return.

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.

Surgery. Anderson Silva undergoes knee surgery, vows to return for ‘two fights in the UFC’.


The A-Side Live Chat.

Embedded 2.

Free fight.

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.


Dana yelling at you about the event this weekend.


Seems official.


COVID-19 test.

Deserves it but won’t get it.

Shut down.




Thanks for reading, stay safe, and see y’all tomorrow.



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