Khabib Nurmagomedov has reiterated that he doesn’t want to hold up the UFC lightweight title picture.
UFC President Dana White remains optimistic that Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to the Octagon for one last bout but the undefeated Russian appears to be content to remain retired after his submission victory over Justin Gaethje last October took him to 29-0 as a professional.
Nurmagomedov has made no secret of his desire to concentrate on projects outside the UFC and he made it clear to White that he has little interest in rematches against the likes of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
“I’m focused on my own big projects, four or five of them. I have to spend time on them,” Nurmagomedov told Match TV, as translated by RT.
“As for my career as a fighter, I don’t want to go into details. Dana’s an honest person, we always had an honest relationship. I think he’ll let the media know the message that I sent him a week ago.
“It’s not a secret, I just told him how I’d like things to develop, not only related to me, but the lightweight division in general.
“I told [Dana] I don’t want the division to be held up. But on the other hand, fighters have only just been in action and people already understand in general who we’ll see fighting for the title.”
Nurmagomedov revealed that the UFC is targeting the early summer for a lightweight title fight but ‘The Eagle’ has not been informed of the two fighters involved in the contest.
Having already met with White in Abu Dhabi, Nurmagomedov is set to hold final talks with the UFC boss later this month in relation to the chances of tempting Nurmagomedov back for one more bout although he sounds determined to vacate his 155lbs title.
“I know they’re already making plans, I think for around May or June for a title fight,” Nurmagomedov continued.
“But between who? Dana told me he isn’t done yet. I can say that. When I told him the lightweight division needs to move on, he told me he isn’t done.
“He said to me, ‘When you fly to Vegas at the end of February, we’ll sit down and talk.’
“Dana needs to make some kind of decision. But whatever the decision, I’ll agree with it.”
While recent performances would justify a lightweight title fight between Poirier and Charles Oliveira, the pay-per-view drawing power of McGregor could lead the UFC to prioritise a rubber match between ‘The Notorious’ and ‘The Diamond’.
Numagomedov’s view is that Poirier should be the next holder of the 155lbs belt based on his resume.
“Poirier deserves to be champion, that’s my personal opinion,” Nurmagomedov said.
“Look at who he’s fought. Jim Miller, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway. He’s fought me, Conor – these are all top fighters, maybe fighters who will end up in the UFC Hall of Fame.”