Khabib Nurmagomedov
The Eagle

Russia

Taking on Gaethje at UFC 255
LightweightUFC
July 28, 2020
UFC president Dana White announced Tuesday that Nurmagomedov (28-0-0) will return to the Octagon on Oct. 24 to face Justin Gaethje (22-2-0) in a lightweight match at UFC 255, Simon Head of USA Today reports.
ANALYSIS
Back in the Octagon for the first time since September 2019, Nurmagomedov returns to competitive fighting with a heavy heart following the death of his father and coach, Abdulmanap, earlier this month due to COVID-19-related complications. The lightweight champion had previously been scheduled to defend his belt against Tony Ferguson in April at UFC 249, but Nurmagomedov's withdrawal from that event allowed Gaethje to step in and claim the interim title. Expect the Nurmagomedov-Gaethje fight to serve as the headliner for the Oct. 24 event, which will be held at a yet-to-be-determined venue.
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Plans to fight before end of 2020
LightweightUFC
July 18, 2020
Nurmagomedov's manager confirmed Saturday that the rumors of 31-year-old contemplating retirement are false and that he plans to fight Justin Gaethje before the end of the year, The Daily Mail reports.
ANALYSIS
Nurmagomedov was scheduled to defend his UFC Lightweight Title against Tony Ferguson back in April, but the fight was canceled because he was unable to leave his home in Russia due to the country being put on lockdown as a result of the pandemic. Nurmagomedov was hit with more bad news at the beginning of July when his father passed away due to COVID-19 complications. After reports surfaced that Nurmagomedov was stepping away from the UFC to mourn the loss of his father, rumors swirled that he had actually ended up retiring. Those rumors were put to bed Saturday after his Nurmagomedov's manager confirmed that he would be fighting Gaethje before 2020 is over. UFC President Dana White has yet to set an official date or location for the fight to take place. His initial hope was for this matchup to serve as the main event of UFC 253, but that spot will instead be taken by Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa.
Confirmed off UFC 249
LightweightUFC
April 1, 2020
Nurmagomedov confirmed Wednesday via a personal Instagram post that he will not be fighting at UFC 249 on April 18.
ANALYSIS
This had essentially already been confirmed Tuesday when Nurmagomedov confirmed via Instagram live that he was back home in Russia, and alluded to being unable to fight with the country on lockdown due to COVID-19. The UFC already has moved on and offered Tony Ferguson a fight against Justin Gaethje, but it's still unclear whether both parties are in agreement. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov is set to observe the Ramadan, which begins April 23 and ends approximately May 23. Nurmagomedov has historically not competed or trained over that time, as the holiday requires fasting from sunrise to sunset, and continuing to train would increase his injury risk. Look for Nurmagomedov to ramp things back up after that, which would position him for a late-2020 title defense. Whether or not that would be against Ferguson remains to be seen.
Status for UFC 249 in doubt
LightweightUFC
March 30, 2020
Nurmagomedov said Monday in an Instagram Live chat that he remains locked down in Russia, putting his availability in doubt for an April 18 lightweight fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
The UFC is aware of Nurmagomedov's status, and the indefinite timeline for Russia to open its borders has prompted the promotion to explore alternative options to fight Ferguson. According to Helwani, Justin Gaethje has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Nurmagomedov, but no agreement has been finalized. President Dana White has yet to decide on a location for UFC 249, but the promotion remains determined to hold the event.
UFC 249 plans progressing
LightweightUFC
March 24, 2020
UFC President Dana White told Brett Okamoto of ESPN on Monday that the scheduled UFC 249 title fight between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson has a location that is "99.9 percent done."
ANALYSIS
Nurmagomedov's title defense against Tony Ferguson was originally scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn, but with the state having some of the highest reported number of cases of COVID-19 in the country, it was essentially inevitable that the event would need to be relocated. While the UFC has cancelled multiple events preceding UFC 249, White has been adamant all along that this highly-anticipated event will be taking place. Not only is he dialing in a location, but White told Okamoto that the undercard will be normal, as opposed to something abbreviated that many have speculated. Despite the logistical challenges, this is a step in the right direction for Nurmagomedov's chances of making his third title defense. He currently sits as approximately a (-290) betting favorite for this matchup.
Title defense still on
LightweightUFC
March 16, 2020
UFC President Dana White said on Sportscenter on Monday that the scheduled UFC 249 matchup between Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will still happen, Brett Okamoto of ESPNreports.
ANALYSIS
"Whatever it takes" is how White described it during the Sportscenter appearance. The UFC appears content to do this with no crowd, and White acknowledged it probably won't even happen in the United States (it was originally scheduled for Brooklyn, NY). The company did announce Monday that it would be postponing its next three events due to concerns and limitations surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, but all indications suggest this card will still take place. As of Monday afternoon, Nurmagomedov is approximately a (-290) betting favorite for the matchup.