MMA retirement is usually more comedy than tragedy, but the status of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is awkward at present. "The Eagle" retired after defeating Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last month, citing a promise he made to his mother. UFC president Dana White says Khabib was still the champ and would fight again. However, while Nurmagomedov said "Oh no I won't," he remains prominently in the USADA testing pool, and recently posted a message to White on his social network - "See you soon." Further, Nurmagomedov's manager Ali Abdelaziz, who likes to tease, recently posted a shorter message still on his own social network - "30-0."
Meanwhile, former interim division champ Dustin Poirier, who lost to Nurmagomedov last year and fights Conor McGregor at UFC 257 on 1/23, spoke recently with Mike Bohn for MMA Junkie, and argued that if Nurmagomedov is retired, then the McGregor rematch should be for the title.
“I think if Khabib’s retired and not coming back, then I’m next in line for the title shot, and this could be the title fight,” said Poirier. “This could be for the undisputed belt. I think that’d make sense. Dana’s saying one thing, Khabib’s saying another. Who knows what the truth is? Time will tell.”
“The division has to move on. The only thing that makes me think the guy is serious is, first of all, he doesn’t seem like a bulls****er, and if he said he’s done right after the fight and his father just passed away, it’s an emotional moment. You just got another title defense, you get to go back home to your family. You might say those things right after. But a month later, you’re still singing the same tune? Maybe the guy’s mind is somewhere else. Maybe he is moving forward. Maybe, like he said, he’s accomplished everything he set out to do. I don’t know. But if he is done, somebody has to fight for that belt.”
“I want the undisputed belt. I think in this situation, with him just defending, I don’t think an interim belt makes a whole lot of sense.”
“If the title’s not on the line for this fight with Conor, it’s going to be the next fight. After I beat Conor, my next fight will be for the belt if this isn’t it.”