Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) is still the reigning UFC lightweight champion on papers, despite announcing his retirement almost four months ago in October 2020. That is because UFC president Dana White is adamant on bringing the Eagle back to the octagon for one last run, which will probably take his record to a perfect 30-0.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has shown zero interest in making a U-turn, is currently in Las Vegas to corner his teammate Islam Makhachev at UFC 259. And on Saturday or Sunday, he will have another meeting with the UFC supremo over dinner where the two will discuss business. While talking about the champ at the UFC 259 pre-fight press conference, White claimed all the top nine fighters in the lightweight rankings will make a perfect opponent for Khabib Nurmagomedov.
However, he still wants to let the lightweight division unfold more before booking another title fight, adding that there is a possibility that Khabib will be interested in making a return by then. "Let some of these play out to see who will fight next for the title. I think if Khabib is interested, he'll take the fight. You don't see Khabib saying, 'Leave me alone. Stop asking me'. So there's still a chance. That's the way I look at it," he concluded.
The champion announced his retirement, following his victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, saying he is not interested to continue fighting without his late father and head coach, Abdulmanap, by his side. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who was also the mentor of Islam Makhachev and many other Russian fighters, passed away in July 2020, due to complications stemming from COVID-19.
In January 2021, during the UFC 257 fight week, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dana White met in Abu Dhabi to discuss the Eagle's future. However, while fans were expecting a definitive answer from the promotion, White punted on the decision, saying that the Russian would wait till UFC 257 to see something extraordinary, which would be enough to make him return to the sport. However, with Conor McGregor getting stopped by Dustin Poirier in the second round of the main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov did not see any reason for a comeback, telling White that he is “levels above” the other lightweights.