The UFC lightweight champion isn’t about to sell himself short in order to book a hasty return to the UFC octagon following his NSAC hearing earlier this week.
In fact, it is looking increasingly likely that Khabib Nurmagomedov will be sitting out until his teammates Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov are eligible to fight following their involvement in the now-infamous UFC 229 post-fight skirmish.
First reported by SportBox, Nurmagomedov turned down the offer of a reduced sentence that would require him to take part in an anti-bullying PSA.
“[The NSAC] said to take part in a social campaign… the state of Nevada is a place where they allow drugs, prostitution and gambling.
“Let them work on themselves [and their own behavior]. There were fighters who didn’t fight for two years and didn’t have their belts taken for a year and a half. I’m ready to fight, they were the ones who banned me.”
As for the seemingly inevitable log-jam that will surround the divisional title-picture in his absence, ‘The Eagle’ seemed to agree that an interim-belt will be on the line.
Citing his rival Tony Ferguson and in-form contender Dustin Poirier as the deserving challengers for such a belt, he eluded to a possible showdown with the winner at the end of the year.
“I think that they will create an interim title. It could be between [Dustin] Poirier and [Tony] Ferguson. Whoever wins will become the interim champion, and then at the end of the year we will fight for the real belt.
“I think that could happen. [But] at the moment I don’t know for sure.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena