Dana White has been urging Khabib Nurmagomedov to continue his mixed martial arts career despite his retirement following a submission finish over Justin Gaethje to retain his UFC lightweight title at UFC 254 in October.
White — a week ahead of Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon for a rematch with Dustin Poirier — met with the undefeated fighter from Dagestan to figure out if he can get another fight out of the champion. Unfortunately, it appears that he’s come up short.
White appeared on the “UFC on ABC: Holloway vs. Kattar” broadcast to reveal what came out of his closed-door conversation with Nurmagomedov. It appears the champion is content with walking away from the sport, at the urging of his mother, after the tragic death of his father. Still, White seems to think there’s a chance he can coerce Nurmagomedov to step into the cage one last time.
“Basically, the way that he feels right now is that he’s accomplished everything he needed to accomplish,” White told Jon Anik on the broadcast. “He said: ‘I’m gonna watch this fight if these guys do something spectacular and make me want to come back.’ I have a feeling if somebody delivers, he’ll be back.”
It’s clear the biggest fight the UFC can make would be a rematch of Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor, which set a record for the highest-ever mixed martial arts attendance and live gate in Nevada, with $17.2 million in revenue. It also set the record for the biggest MMA pay-per-view event, with 2.4 million buys in the United States. But Nurmagomedov has made it clear on a number of occasions he has very little interest in facing McGregor again after dominating and scoring a fourth-round submission of the former two-division champion.
That won’t stop White from trying. And, in the event McGregor falls short against Poirier at UFC 257, he said the champion has paid close attention not only to the rise of Charles Oliviera, but also the UFC 257 co-main event between Dan Hooker and the promotional debut of Michael Chandler.
If nothing else, White is persistent.
“If these guys can do something special, I think Khabib will fight them.”