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Dana White is 'confident' that he can convince Khabib Nurmagomedov to return from retirement

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Press Conference
UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Press Conference
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Modified 17 Dec 2020, 05:30 IST
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Dana White is convinced that he can bring Khabib Nurmagomedov back from retirement. In a recent interview with BT Sports, White said that he believes that Nurmagomedov would want to fulfill his father's wish of him reaching 30 career wins.

Nurmagomedov retired earlier this year after his bout with Justin Gaethje, where he defended the UFC lightweight championship for the third time. The death of Nurmagomedov's father was the reason that he stepped away from the octagon for good. The Russian grappler said that he promised his mother that he wouldn't fight without his father's presence beside the cage.

Since then, the MMA world has tried to convince Nurmagomedov to return, at least for one more fight. The biggest argument used is that Nurmagomedov's father would want him to have a 30-0 career record. He retired with 29 wins and no losses.

"You know, I think his dad wanting him to get to 30-0 is in the back of his mind, and he wants to achieve that because he knew his father wanted it," analyzed White. "But we will see. I mean, he and I are going to get together next month and talk. He might not; maybe he won't fight. I don't know the answer to that. But I'm a little confident that I can talk him into it.

The two will meet next month in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates' capital, to talk. It is unknown if the reason for the meeting solely concerns the retirement issue. Many speculate it could be a business meeting since Nurmagomedov just acquired a fighting promotion of his own for a reported $1 million.

But White believes his persuasion skills will come in handy and make Nurmagomedov at least consider one more fight for the UFC.

"The truth is: he has not committed to anything. What he has committed to is meeting with me next month," White said. "He and I are going to sit down, we are going to meet next month, and we are going to find out how persuasive I can be. I will bet on me every time."

When asked if the fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier could serve as a dispute for the interim UFC lightweight title, White was dismissive, saying that he doesn't believe that is an option right now.

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Khabib Nurmagomedov's last fight

The top-ranked UFC pound-for-pound fighter made his last appearance for the promotion on October 24, 2020. That was the first and only time that Khabib Nurmagomedov would fight without his father and long-time trainer Abdulmanap Nurmagomed, who died in July due to complications from COVID-19.

The fight was against number one UFC lightweight contender Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov won via technical submission with a triangle choke. That was the 11th time that Nurmagomedov turned out victorious via submission.

While the UFC lightweight belt's future is uncertain, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will clash in January 2020 in one of the most awaited duels in the division since Nurmagomedov's retirement.

Published 17 Dec 2020, 05:30 IST
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