Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje on 10/24
UFC president Dana White told CNN Sport's Don Riddell that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his belt vs. interim champ Justin Gaethje at UFC 255 on October 24.
Nurmagomedov was scheduled to defend vs. Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18, 2020, but concerns over travel restrictions imposed in Russia in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic shelved the bout. Ultimately, Justin Gaethje stepped in vs. Ferguson, the event was held May 9, 2020, in Florida, and Geathje won.
Then on July 3, 2020, Khabib's father Abdulmanap died in a military hospital in Moscow, Russia, from COVID-19. Many, including friend and AKA teammate, former champ champ Daniel Cormier, questioned whether Khabib would fight again. But Khabib's manager Ali Abdelazziz was right, Nurmagomedov may only have a few fights left, but it's not none.
"It's been very rough on him," said White to Riddell "His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a very close relationship and it was very hard on him."
"It's going to happen, tell you right here right now. That fight is going to happen. Khabib versus Gaethje, October 24.”
The location has not been announced, but UFC president Dana White has rightly noted that Fight Island in Abu Dhabi would be the perfect spot.
"The Eagle" recently posted on his social network that he's back in training. However, the caption - which Google translates as, “Exercise is very good at relieving stress and aggression. Train and be kinder.” - left open the possibility that he was just working out, not preparing for a fight. No one ever described Nurmagomedov's fight as "kind."
2020 has not been a good year, so Nurmagomedov's return is all the more insanely great.