According to his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, Khabib Nurmagomedov encouraged Justin Gaethje to go fight Conor McGregor next.
UFC president Dana White recently revealed that “The Eagle” is taking some time away from the Octagon due to the tragic death off his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. He was expected to return to fighting at UFC 253 on September 19 and defend his belt against the lightweight interim titleholder, Justin Gaethje. White hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the fight but is still waiting for a callback from Nurmagomedov to see where his head is at.
With no certainty surrounding the lightweight champion’s return, it also leaves the lightweight interim champion in limbo as well. He delivered a top-notch performance against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on May 9. Gaethje finished “El Cucuy” by TKO in the fifth round and put an end to his 12-fight run of consecutive victories.
Gaethje is managed by Dominance MMA, which is responsible for multiple stars, including his potential opponent, Nurmagomedov. According to Abdelaziz, the Dominance MMA CEO, Nurmagomedov gave Gaethje the go-ahead to fight McGregor in the meantime if he wants.
However, Abdelaziz claims that Gaethje has turned down that offer.
“Justin said no. Khabib told me to tell Justin to go fight Conor. Justin said no,” Abdelaziz said to TMZ Sports.
“Conor, right now, he can be a backup fighter, he can go make weight and maybe he can make some money. Conor, he can go fight Nate, fight Masvidal. We’re not interested in fighting him.”
There have been several occasions where Gaethje wanted nothing more than a matchup against the “Notorious.” He baited him with callouts and insults on social media but was left frustrated when McGregor set his sights on other opponents such as Donald Cerrone. Ali Abdelaziz also has some serious bad blood with the Irish fighter amid McGregor’s rivalry with Nurmagomedov.
Since the former two-division champion last fought at welterweight and no longer holds a title, Abdelaziz sees no point in Gaethje fighting him in his next bout.
“He needs to get some wins and he needs to fight some good opponents. I said the only way he fights Khabib is if he fights Islam Makhachev. Then Khabib will fight him.”
Also, it is unclear if McGregor will ever return to the Octagon after announcing his retirement earlier this year. The Irish fighter has retired multiple times, only to build hype of his possible return and ultimately make a comeback. So, who knows what the future holds for all three fighters.
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