MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz will not stand in the way of a lightweight title fight between his clients Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
As anybody who has been paying any attention to the UFC over the last few weeks knows, a fight between Nurmagomedov and Gaethje is very real possibility in the coming months.
Nurmagomedov, the undisputed champion, was originally expected to defend his title against top contender Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. When Nurmagomedov got stranded in Russia due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, Gaethje stepped in to replace him in an interim title fight with Ferguson.
The UFC 249 card was ultimately canceled, of course, but Ferguson and Gaethje have since been re-booked for an interim title fight on May 9.
If Gaethje wins the interim title by defeating Ferguson, he can almost certainly look forward to a title-unifying showdown with the undisputed champ Nurmagomedov next. In that event, Abdelaziz will not intervene.
“You saw (what happened when) Henry Cejudo fought Marlon Moraes before,” Abdelaziz told MMA Junkie. “If (Gaethje is) going to be interim champion, he’s going to fight Khabib for the undisputed lightweight championship. These guys work all their lives to become a champion. Who am I to step in the way to making that happen? I know Tony (Ferguson) had a problem before with (having the same management as Conor McGregor), but that’s not how I do business.
“I don’t think it’s fair for a manager or a promoter to stop a guy from having his dreams come true of becoming the undisputed UFC champion. If Justin wins, it’s a fair fight. Him and Khabib will fight.”
In the same interview, Abdelaziz shared his desire timeframe for the return of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who will soon be fasting for Ramadan.
“I think he can be back in August,” Abdelaziz said of Nurmagomedov. “He told me originally the UFC had scheduled a San Francisco fight, I think it was August 1. He can fight there, it’s no problem. It doesn’t have to be September. But, as you know, (in) September they always have this Abu Dhabi card and I’m sure the UFC wants him to fight there.”
Do you think we’ll see Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje fight later this year?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/20/2020.