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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov says the lightweight division needs to move on, Dustin Poirier ‘deserves to be champion’

UFC 242: Khabib v Poirier Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

No, but seriously, Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired.

At UFC 254 this past November, the lightweight champion defended his title with a second-round submission of interim champion Justin Gaethje. Following the bout, he immediately declared his retirement from the sport, citing the loss of his father and a promise made to his mother.

Despite Khabib’s retirement though, the UFC has yet to vacate Khabib’s title while Dana White continues to try and coax the all-time great back for one more bout. Thus far it has not worked, and according to a recent interview with Khabib, it doesn’t seem like that will change any time soon.

“I’m focused on my own big projects, four or five of them. I have to spend time on them,” Khabib told Russia’s Match TV (translation via RT Sport). “As for my career as a fighter, I don’t want to go into details. Dana’s an honest person, we always had an honest relationship. I think he’ll let the media know the message that I sent him a week ago. It’s not a secret, I just told him how I’d like things to develop, not only related to me, but the lightweight division in general. I told (Dana) I don’t want the division to be held up. But on the other hand, fighters have only just been in action and people already understand in general who we’ll see fighting for the title.”

One of the major reasons White has refused to accept Khabib’s retirement was a transparent hope to book a lucrative rematch between Khabib and Conor McGregor. However, Dustin Poirier blew up those plans by knocking McGregor out at UFC 257. Following the pay-per-view, White said he would finally stop trying to pressure Khabib into returning, but it seems the UFC President may have one final Hail Mary to throw.

“I know they’re already making plans, I think for around May or June for a title fight,” Khabib said. “But between who? Dana told me he isn’t done yet. I can say that. When I told him the lightweight division needs to move on, he told me he isn’t done. He said to me, ‘When you fly to Vegas at the end of February, we’ll sit down and talk. Dana needs to make some kind of decision. But whatever the decision, I’ll agree with it.”

At this point, it’s unclear what fight White could offer that could sway Khabib. A superfight against Georges St-Pierre is generally considered to be the only bout the lightweight champion would even be somewhat interested by but that does not seem terribly likely. And instead of spending their time attempting to cajole him back for another fight, Khabib says the UFC should go head and crown Poirier as the champion and move on.

“Poirier deserves to be champion, that’s my personal opinion,” Khabib said. “Look at who he’s fought. Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. He’s fought me, Conor – these are all top fighters, maybe fighters who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame.

“I think intrigue will appear in the lightweight division as soon as they decide the title fight and eliminator. At the moment, it’s held up and not clear what Dana’s thinking. I think it’s going to be on fire in the lightweight division this summer. The lightweight division has always been the most competitive, the most interesting, with big stars. It will take new turns this summer… a new, younger, generation is already coming, plus there’s Chandler, Oliviera, Poirier, Gaethje, a lot of good fighters. With that mix, it will be interesting this summer and towards the end of the year.”


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UFC 258 Timeline.

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Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



Who will be the next UFC lightweight champion?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Dustin Poirier
    (644 votes)
  • 19%
    Charles Oliveira
    (207 votes)
  • 7%
    Michael Chandler
    (78 votes)
  • 4%
    Justin Gaethje
    (43 votes)
  • 6%
    Conor McGregor
    (66 votes)
  • 1%
    (17 votes)
1055 votes total Vote Now

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