Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje will fight for the UFC lightweight title on October 24, according to UFC President Dana White.
White confirmed the date for this fight during an interview with CNN.
Nurmagomedov, the undisputed UFC lightweight champion, has been expected to defend his title against the interim champion, Gaethje, for some time. However, the death of Nurmagomedov’s father cast a shadow of uncertainty on the bout.
“It’s been very rough on him,” White told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell of Nurmagomedov (h/t MMA Junkie). “His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a very, very close relationship and it was very hard on him.”
Despite this tragedy, White says Nurmagomedov and Gaethje will fight this year.
“It’s going to happen, I tell you right here right now,” White said. “That fight’s going to happen.
“Khabib versus Gaethje, October 24.”
This announcement from White lines up with the news that Nurmagomedov recently returned to training in his native Dagestan.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is currently 28-0 as a professional mixed martial artist. He captured the UFC lightweight title in early 2018, when he defeated last-minute replacement opponent Al Iaquinta in a fight for the vacant throne. Since then, he’s defended the title twice: first with a submission of Conor McGregor in late 2018, then with a submission of Dustin Poirier in September, 2019. Other highlights of his record include wins over top-flight foes like Rafael dos Anjos, Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza.
Nurmagomedov was expected to defend his title against Tony Ferguson in April, but ended up getting stranded in his native Russia due to travel restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic. When Nurmagomedov was unable to fight Ferguson, Gaethje got the call to fight Ferguson in an interim lightweight title fight.
That Gaethje vs. Ferguson fight ended up happening in May. In a noteworthy upset, Gaethje won by fifth-round TKO to capture the interim title and set himself up for a blockbuster title unification fight with Nurmagomedov. Prior to his win over Ferguson, Gaethje defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Edson Barboza, and James Vick—all by knockout.
Who do you think will win when Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje square off in October?