UFC

Khabib expects McGregor or Poirier to fight for title as UFC star remains in contact with White

By Sports Desk December 29, 2020

Khabib Nurmagomedov expects the winner of the Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier bout to fight for the UFC lightweight championship.

Khabib stunningly announced his retirement from the octagon after beating Justin Gaethje to defend the lightweight title at UFC 254 in October as he improved to 29-0, though the 32-year-old remains the champion.

As McGregor and Poirier prepare for their January 23 clash at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, Khabib believes the winner will go on to compete for his crown.

"Top three [lightweight] fighters right now? Poirier, McGregor and [Islam] Makhachev. He is not in the top-five yet, but those are the best fighters," Khabib told Match TV.

"My belt will be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor."

Khabib has continued to insist he will not come out of retirement to fight in the UFC, and the Russian added: "[UFC president] Dana White and I are constantly in touch -- the moment about the vacancy of the belt was not discussed.

"It seems to me that this is because the organisation really wants me to resume my career.

"This is understandable -- I spent nine years in the league, I had many fights, became a champion, defended the title, never lost, I have a huge fan base from around the world.

"My performances are already a kind of history. The desire of the UFC is understandable to me, I don't blame them. I will not hide -- they [try to] persuade me to return.

"There's nothing surprising about that. They offer conditions, fighters -- but it is hard to surprise me; they have no one to offer me. Soon, in a couple of weeks, we'll be meeting with Dana to discuss."

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    Khabib Nurmagomedov still holds the lightweight belt with the UFC trying to lure him out of retirement, though Poirier has taken to declaring himself the champion in the meantime.

    The 32-year-old won the interim title in April 2019 but was submitted by Khabib in a unification fight at UFC 242.

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    Asked if he would fight McGregor for the lightweight title, Poirier told ESPN: "I'm not sure if the UFC would do that.

    "Why wasn't that one for the belt? Politics? We're chasing Khabib? What's going on here?

    "I have no clue what direction [the UFC is going to] move in. Obviously [Justin] Gaethje's coming off a loss too, then there's [Michael] Chandler and [Charles] Oliveira. I need to go and look at the rankings to see the order we're in now.

    "It's 1-1 [with McGregor]. I knocked him out; he knocked me out. The rubber match, it does make sense."

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