UFC President Dana White recently opened the door to a blockbuster rematch between UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former two-division champion Conor McGregor.
The catch, the UFC boss explained, is that Nurmagomedov will have to successfully defend his belt against Tony Ferguson in April, and McGregor will have to defeat Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 in January.
“If Conor can get through Cowboy, and Khabib can get through Tony, then we’d be looking at a rematch between Conor and Khabib down the line,” White told BT Sport of this much discussed rematch.
Khabib Nurmagomedov has caught wind of this plan from White, and he’s pumping the brakes.
The champ has recently been unwilling to give his arch nemesis McGregor the opportunity for a rematch, and is seemingly sticking to his guns on that.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: "I'm surprised Dana White is saying that if Conor beats Cerrone and I beat Tony Ferguson, there will be a rematch. I decided who I'm going to fight next… But to think he deserves the lightweight belt, while I'm champion that won't happen." https://t.co/5mT4tKG1Oj
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) December 13, 2019
“I’m surprised Dana White is saying that if Conor beats Cerrone and I beat Tony Ferguson, there will be a rematch,” Nurmagomedov said at a press conference in Russia (via Chamatkar Sandhu). “I decided who I’m going to fight next… But to think he deserves the lightweight belt, while I’m champion that won’t happen.”
Needless to say, Dana White will likely have to sweeten the pot to convince Khabib Nurmagomedov to accept this rematch.
Of course, there is also a contingency plan. White recently divulged that if a Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor rematch doesn’t materialize, he’d consider booking a welterweight fight between McGregor and Jorge Masvidal. Nurmagomedov could then focus on other lightweight contenders like Justin Gaethje.
“Conor has this idea too, that if things don’t go his way, he’ll have had a 170 [pound] fight in his pocket again, and [he’s] considering a Masvidal fight,” White told ESPN on Thursday.
“We’ll get through the Cowboy fight [first],” White added. “The level of disrespect… People forget that Cowboy has lost two in a row before and come back and gone on unbelievable runs. So let’s not count Cowboy out.”
Do you think we’ll see a rematch between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor in 2020?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/13/2019.