Back in January, UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov was finally disciplined for his role in the wild brawl that followed his UFC 229 victory over Conor McGregor. The Dagestani champion received a $500,000 fine and a nine-month suspension, which can be reduced to six months if he completes an anti-bullying PSA approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).
Nurmagomedov will not be partaking in the NSAC’s proposed PSA — he recently made his thoughts on that quite clear. Furthermore, the champ actually plans to sit out until November, standing in solidarity with his teammates Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, who were suspended for one year for their roles in the brawl.
UFC President Dana White is not on board with this plan, explaining at the UFC 234 post-fight press conference that Khabib Nurmagomedov simply “can’t” sit out all year and keep the belt.
“Guys can’t sit out and wait that long when you have the title,” White said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “You can’t do it. So if that’s true and he’s going to do that, then we’d have to figure out something else and you start looking at whether it’s Conor McGregor-Tony Ferguson or one of these other guys.”
As White implies above, if Khabib Nurmagomedov does indeed take the year off, the UFC could be forced to create an interim title to keep the division moving.
Despite mentioning a fight between Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, White was hesitant to commit to the matchup that would crown the interim champion in Nurmagomedov’s stead, assuring only that opportunity could soon be knocking for a pair of top lightweights.
“When opportunity knocks, answer the door,” he said. “We’ll see how this thing plays out.”
Do you think Khabib Nurmagomedov will really sit out all year?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/9/2019.