Khabib Nurmagomedov will face Justin Gaethje in a UFC lightweight fight on October 24, Dana White confirms.
It had been speculated that Khabib would quit the sport after losing his father at the age of 57 in July, although the Russian manager refuted that claim. Gaethje intervened to beat and defeat Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 for the interim title after Khabib had to withdraw due to travel restrictions amid the corona virus pandemic.
UFC President White says the American will be Khabib’s opponent if he returns to the Octagon in three months.
“It’s going to happen, tell you right now. That fight is going to happen ‘, White told CNN. “Khabib versus Gaethje, October 24.”
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White said Khabib has been struggling since the Russian lost his father Abdulmanap to complications from a COVID-19 infection.
“It is very difficult for him,” he said. “His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a close relationship and it was very difficult for him.”
Khabib, who has won all 28 of his professional fights, defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in his most recent fight to defend the lightweight title last September.
White previously stated that the fight between Khabib and Gaethje would take place on “Fight Island” in July. White did not tell CNN where the new fight would take place.
The UFC president also spoke to ESPN earlier this week about Khabib’s fight against Gaethje. White was asked if Khabib plans to retire anytime soon so that he can honor his father’s wishes and walk away 30-0.
“I don’t know,” said White. “Obviously he’s having a Gaethje fight, that’s a foregone conclusion. Then he fights Gaethje. Then I don’t know who would be his last fight to make him 30. I do not know. No idea, I mean, listen, at the end of the day, Conor McGregor’s fight – I know Conor has always wanted that fight since the last one, I mean that’s the fight to be fought. I do not know. Again, we’ll see how this all works out. But the Gaethje fight is absolute, especially the next fight for him. ‘
White also praised Khabib in his interview with ESPN.
“The boys were great,” said White. “He’s been great for the company, he’s been great for the sport and I love Khabib Nurmagomedov a lot.”