After submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov shocked the world and announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. Since the statement, speculation keeps popping up on whether Nurmagomedov will return. He keeps denying a return will happen, but that isn't going to stop Dana White from trying to change his mind.
In an interview with ESPN, the UFC president said he's going to meet with the current lightweight champion this week in Abu Dhabi, as the UFC runs three events starting on Saturday and ending with UFC 257 featuring the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
White strongly thinks Nurmagomedov (29-0) will return and plans on putting on the full-court press to get him to return.
"I'm obviously meeting with him because I think that he should fight again," White told ESPN. "Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje [in October]. Look at what he's done to every opponent he has faced. ... I think he should fight again, and I'm going to press him as hard as I can for one more."
When Nurmagomedov's father, Abdulmanap, died of heart complications last year in part due to the coronavirus, the 32-year-old promised his mother that he wouldn't return to the Octagon. However, his father wanted him to retire at 30-0.
White's made it abundantly clear that if he can get Nurmagomedov to return for one more, then he'd like to make the Nurmagomedov-McGregor rematch. They met at UFC 229 in October 2018, with the native of Dagestan winning via fourth-round submission. The event generated around 2.4 million pay-per-view, which is still a company record.
"As a promoter, you always want to see the best guys in the world, but at the same time, when a guy wants to retire, he probably should," White said.
"The difference with a guy like Khabib is he's been through so much and losing his dad was a major blow to him. Yet, his dad wanted him to hit 30-0.
"No matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor is not only one of the best in the world, but one of the best to ever do it. And right now, he's as focused as he's ever been.
"I don't know if this is going to be the same Conor after the Poirier fight, but if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Khabib vs. Conor again?"