MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz claims that Khabib Nurmagomedov has not vacated the UFC lightweight title despite announcing his retirement.
After dominating Justin Gaethje and finishing him with a second-round triangle choke in the main event of UFC 254, Nurmagomedov shocked the world when he announced his retirement from MMA. The long-time UFC lightweight champion cited numerous reasons as to why he is hanging up his gloves but pointed specifically to the loss of his father Abdulmanap due to COVID-19 in July. He said that he didn’t want to continue without his father and promised his mother that the fight with Gaethje would be his last in the UFC.
However, it looks like there may be more to the story. According to a tweet from Nurmagomedov’s manager Abdelaziz, the UFC lightweight title is not vacant. Whether that means that Nurmagomedov has had a sudden change of heart or if he’s just blowing smoke is unclear at this point, but it’s worth noting what Abdelaziz wrote on Twitter.
There’s no vacant title here 😳 https://t.co/LPisktVZ7B
— Ali Abdelaziz (@AliAbdelaziz00) October 25, 2020
There’s no vacant title here
This is certainly an interesting development. In the wake of Nurmagomedov stepping away from the sport, some — including UFC lightweight Michael Chandler — have suggested a tournament to crown a new champion featuring the likes of Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, and Gaethje. It certainly makes sense if the title is vacant. But if what Abdelaziz is saying is true, then there is no belt to fight for.
The UFC will likely want some closure on this matter sooner rather than later. If Nurmagomedov is having second thoughts about retiring, then the UFC would obviously love to have him back. But if he is truly done, then the promotion will want him to make his decision so the division can move on, just like they asked Henry Cejudo to do.
Do you think Ali Abdelaziz is hinting that Khabib Nurmagomedov may fight again?