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Dana White: ‘We feel horrible’ for Khabib Nurmagomedov, leaving him alone right now

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Khabib Nurmagomedov undoubtedly has a lot on his mind right now in the wake of the tragic death of his father, and the UFC won’t add to his burden.

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away on July 3 due to complications from COVID-19 following a lengthy stay in a military hospital in Moscow, Russia. In the aftermath of his father’s death, UFC President Dana White said the promotion is allowing the lightweight champion have the time he needs to mourn.

“It’s terrible,” White said about Abdulmanap’s passing. “We feel horrible for Khabib and how much he loves his father and how close they were.

“[We’re] just giving him time to mourn and do whatever he needs to do. We’re not bothering him at all right now. We’re just leaving him alone.”

Beyond their relationship as father and son, Abdulmanap had served as Khabib’s coach and mentor for his entire athletic career, not to mention the impact he had on dozens of other wrestlers and fighters from Dagestan and various parts of Russia.

Khabib Nurmagomedov was originally expected to battle Justin Gaethje later this year to determine an undisputed UFC lightweight champion. Gaethje captured the interim belt in May when he finished Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event.

It appeared the title unification bout was on track for a potential September collision, but now, White said that’s the least of their concerns when it comes to Nurmagomedov’s future.

“We’re not messing with Khabib right now,” White stated. “We’re leaving Khabib alone. Khabib needs time.

“Khabib’s going to need time to get his head straight and figure out what’s next for him. We’re going to leave him alone for a little while. We’ll get it figured out.”

While it’s impossible to know when the lightweight title will be decided, White did confirm reports that the UFC is likely headed back to Abu Dhabi in the near future with plans for more “Fight Island” cards in September or October.

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