On Saturday, Nurmagomedov took to Instagram and revealed – despite announcing his retirement following his submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 – that he was recently tested by USADA for the 47th time in his career. That led to questions about the seriousness of the retirement announcement from the lightweight champion of the world.
“I didn’t know that happened,” White told reporters about Nurmagomedov’s test in a video posted by The Mac Life. “I told you guys that I think he’s gonna go to [30-0]. If he’s still testing, why the hell would you want to test if you’re not gonna fight?
“He hasn’t committed, but I feel like he’s gonna. I’m not really pushing him. We talked about it and he just fought. Let him take some time, spend some time with his family, spend the holidays. There’s no rush.”
Although it hasn’t been officially announced, all signs are pointing toward Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier headlining UFC 257 on Jan. 23, as MMA Fighting previously reported. White said the plan is to have that event in Abu Dhabi, but he was non-committal about whether it would be a one-time stop or another multi-week run on Fight Island.
In the end, if McGregor and Poirier ultimately square off again in the octagon to kick off the 2021 pay-per-view schedule, the lightweight matchup will be simply be a rematch, according to White. A title will not be up for grabs because White strongly believes Nurmagomedov, who technically is still the reigning 155-pound champion, will join the list of fighters whose retirements didn’t stick.
“No, [it won’t be for the title],” White explained. “Khabib’s gonna fight (again). I believe he’s gonna fight. It’s not for the title.”