Khabib Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz may have just hinted that the ‘The Eagle’ may not be done with fighting after all.
Nurmagomedov stunned the sports world last October when he announced his retirement following a masterful second round submission win over Justin Gaethje to retain the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi.
The Russian star retired as champion with an unblemished 29-0 professional record, and was catapulted to the top of the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings just days later.
While fans and fellow fighters celebrated Nurmagomedov's career, many experts began to speculate who should be the next in line for the UFC's soon-to-be-vacant 155-pound title, now that the division's champion has called it a career.
Even back then, Abdelaziz was already dropping hints as to whether or not Khabib was really retiring, saying that there was no vacant title to be fought for.
UFC President Dana White also spoke about Khabib's status, saying that he believes the champion will try to go for a 30th professional career win before actually riding off into the sunset.
Tuesday, Abdelaziz once again took to Twitter and had people speculating.
"30-0" read the tweet.
What could this mean? Does this back up the statement that White said about Nurmagomedov coming back for win number 30 before retiring for good?
Possible Scenarios for Khabib Nurmagomedov's 30th and Final Professional Fight
If Khabib Nurmagomedov is indeed coming back to capture win number 30, who should he try to do it against?
Fortunately for the UFC, their 155-pound division is quite stacked, so there's always a myriad of options.
As per the latest iteration of the UFC's lightweight rankings, Gaethje sits as the number one contender in the division, followed by Dustin Poirier at number two, Tony Ferguson at number three, and Conor McGregor at number four.
These four fighters have been the most talked about as the favorites to claim the throne once Khabib does call it quits. Depending on when the champion wants to fight again, the UFC could do a four-man tournament of sorts, with the winner getting a shot at Nurmagomedov and the title.
The only issue would be that Khabib has already steamrolled through Gaethje, Poirier, and McGregor in his last three fights. The only man that he hasn't faced yet is Ferguson.
The UFC has tried - on five different occasions - to book Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson, but for whatever reason, the fight keeps falling through, leading people in the MMA community to jokingly label it as a 'cursed' matchup. In fact, Khabib and Ferguson were scheduled to meet earlier this year, but the pandemic complicated things, eventually leading to Ferguson facing - and losing to - Gaethje in an interim UFC lightweight championship match instead.
One realistic move, given that the Khabib has handily beaten the other three guys, is for the UFC to try and roll the dice on Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson again.
Regardless of what the UFC ultimately decides to do with Nurmagomedov, it will surely be an intriguing possible final fight.Published 11 Nov 2020, 01:28 IST