A few weeks back Khabib Nurmagomedov’s agent, Ali Abdelaziz, revealed that his client is ‘done’ fighting in Nevada (which just happens to be the fight capital of the world, and the home of the UFC), and would rather wait to make his return on a New York card in November (which is yet to be announced, but can be expected).
However, Dana White (a source of pure truth), has since told the media that Khabib sitting out until November is not something he is overly happy about. Being quoted as saying:
“Guys can’t sit out and wait that long if they have the title, you can’t do it,” White said during his UFC 234 post-fight media scrum (transcript by MMA Mania). “So if that’s true and he is going to do that, then we have to figure out something else.
“You start looking at whether it’s Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, or one of these other guys. Whoever wants to…when opportunity knocks, answer the door. So we will see how this thing plays out. That’s the criteria.”
If White is to be believed, which he quite often shouldn’t be, it is quite possible that we could see either an interim title introduced or even more dramatically, Khabib could have his belt stripped if he refuses to compete.
It’s highly unlikely that the UFC will strip Khabib of the belt if he expresses a genuine desire to compete on that November card. This isn’t like a McGregor situation in which he’s off galavanting and taking part in other ventures. While he may not have fought for 13 months come November, that is including a nine month suspension.
I’m not overly against the idea of an interim title in that time however, title fights in the UFC could be slightly sparse this year, and it would be intriguing to see the matchup that the UFC would decide to make. Tony Ferguson would be the most deserving, however McGregor vs Cerrone for an interim belt would make the much bigger show.
Either way, I’d just be happy to see the Lightweight belt on the line… it feels like a rare occasion in modern MMA.