UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will fight American Justin Gaethje before the end of the calendar year, the Russian wrestler’s manager has confirmed.
Ali Abdelaziz put to bed recent rumours that the undefeated world champion had retired following the death of his father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
Instead he confirmed Nurmagomedov will come back from a period of mourning and return to action against the current interim champion by the end of 2020.
Abdelaziz, who manages both Khabib and Gaethje, told TMZ Sports: “Khabib is not retiring. Khabib, you know, he has some goals, he has some things to accomplish.”
Speaking on Nurmagomedov’s imminent future, Ali said: “I’m sure Dana’s (White, UFC president) going to let everybody know when is Khabib going to fight.
“We have a blockbuster main event: (Khabib) versus Justin Gaethje. Two of the best lightweights in the world today in the recent era.
“We see what Justin Gaethje did to his last opponent. He dismantled Tony Ferguson, he made him look an absolute amateur.”
When pressed for an exact date for the much-anticipated showdown, Ali said it was “Dana White’s job” to announce fights, but he did confirm it will be this year.
He said: “This is Dana White’s job, he’s the promoter, I don’t want to speak on his behalf, but you will see Khabib before the end of the year.
“Dana White should be the one delivering the news. It’s not my position to tell you, but everything is lovely, and you’ll see Khabib and Justin fighting before the year for sure.”
Khabib last fought in September 2019 in Abu Dhabi, successfully defending his title against Dustin Poirier and has been left “heartbroken” by the death of his father.
He was due to put his title on the line again in a fight with Tony Ferguson in April but was unable to leave Russia due to the pandemic.
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