Dana White not rushing Khabib Nurmagomedov back to the Octagon: “He’s going to fight when he calls me”

Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dana White

Khabib Nurmagomedov is taking some time away from fighting according to UFC President Dana White.

It has been an unfortunate year for the undisputed lightweight champion. He was scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson in an eagerly-anticipated matchup at UFC 249 in May earlier this year. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions, he was forced to withdraw from the upcoming title defence.

The virus infiltrated his home town in Dagestan, Russia. One of the individuals who became infected was his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. His health deteriorated, so Nurmagomedov Sr. was taken to hospital in Moscow where he was treated for pneumonia-like symptoms. From there, he was placed in a medically induced coma on two separate occasions and reportedly suffered a heart attack. He also underwent emergency bypass surgery. The medical team did all they could, but unfortunately, Abdulmanap passed away on July 3 2020 at the age of 57 years old.

Nurmagomedov Sr. is credited for his influence over Khabib’s career. It is unclear what affect his passing will have on the champion.

There was speculation that Khabib Nurmagomedov would return at the upcoming UFC 253 event on the September 19, to face the interim titleholder Justin Gaethje. However, the UFC boss revealed that he is giving Khabib time off to grieve is and doesn’t know when he will return.

“He’s going to fight when he calls me,” White said during a Fight Island post-fight press conference. “Khabib’s dad just died. When he’s ready, he’ll let me know.”

Dana revealed that the possible fight against Gaethje is not completely ruled out and the decision lies with the lightweight champion.

“I don’t think it’s off the table,” White said. “I’m just waiting to hear from him.

“No, I’m not messing with Khabib. I’m leaving him alone until he’s ready to talk and I’m letting him mourn and do what he has to do. I reached out to him the day of and I haven’t heard back from him since.”

With the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje title bout on the back-burner for now, it is likely that Israel Adesanya will make his second title defence against Paulo Costa for the main event of the UFC 253 pay-per-view card. The UFC could also go another direction altogether.

The team at BJPENN.com send their condolences to Khabib Nurmagomedov and his family and all those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.