While speaking to CNN recently, Dana White confirmed the news that 'The Eagle' will indeed return to the Octagon for the first time since his successful title defense over Dustin Poirier. He will finally cross paths with Justin Gaethje in order to crown the new undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, things have definitely changed massively for Khabib Nurmagomedov. The reigning UFC Lightweight Champion was initially set for a clash against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, but due to travel restrictions in Russia, 'The Eagle' was unable to make his way over to Las Vegas for the fight.
Things didn't end there and then for Khabib, as a few days later, his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away amid complications of COVID-19. A true pioneer of the game, Abdulmanap has been highly influential in his son's rise in the Mixed Martial Arts game and almost crafted Khabib's path to glory when 'The Eagle' finally got his hands on UFC gold for the very first time at UFC 223.
The last time we saw Khabib Nurmagomedov in action, the 155-lb champ completely mauled Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 and Abdulmanap was at the cage side to witness his son put together one of the finest performances of his career.
Many believed that 'The Diamond' stood a chance against Khabib, especially given the fact that Poirier is clinical on feet. He was also coming off an incredible win over Max Holloway to win the interim Lightweight Title.
In an almost similar fashion, Dustin Poirier also put up another clinical performance against Justin Gaethje in 2018, knocking out 'The Highlight' in the fourth round of a classic war between the two striking geniuses.
At this point, it can almost be argued that stylistically, Gaethje is similar to Poirier in the Octagon. One could totally bet his money on the Dagestan fighter to maul 'The Highlight' in classic Khabib Nurmagomedov fashion, taking the fight to the ground and not letting the interim champ out of his grasp for 15-20 minutes almost.
However, the one big question that might arise is - will the passing away of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov affect Khabib Nurmagomedov's game? His father's presence at Octagon-side certainly provided Khabib that extra bit of motivation that he needed every time he stepped foot into the cage but this time around, will things be different for 'The Eagle'?
Maybe, maybe not! We don't know for sure. Being an MMA fighter, you'd expect him to be mentally prepared every time he steps into the cage. When someone is as tough as Khabib Nurmagomedov, you would expect the Lightweight Champ to be fully focused in order to maintain his undefeated run in the fight game.
It sure does take a lot of guts to step back into the Octagon especially after everything Khabib Nurmagomedov has been through over the past few months.
However, one thing that I can assure you is the fact that The Eagle's goal to glory remains the same, and Nurmagomedov still aims to hang up his gloves with the perfect record of 30-0.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje set for October 24th
The title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje had been expected to take place sometime this September, and we finally have an official date.
But as of now, a venue for the 24th October UFC event is yet to be confirmed and it remains to be seen where the Nurmagomedov vs Gaethje fight takes place.
"That fight's going to happen."- said Dana White said during an appearance on CNN.
Initial reports had suggested that Khabib Nurmagomedov was set to return to the UFC in September, but President Dana White decided to allow the former as much time as he needed after the recent passing of his father Abdulamanap.
"It's been very rough on him. Everybody is close to their parents and everything, but his father was a hero to him. He loved his father. They had a very close relationship, and it was very hard on him."- Dana White.
However, it now looks like Khabib Nurmagomedov is now set to make his way back into the Octagon in what possibly could be one of his final fights in the UFC. Amid a global pandemic and the passing away of his father/mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov's goal still remains the same.
Published 28 Jul 2020, 23:30 IST