Khabib manager gives update on plans for UFC lightweight champ’s octagon return

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UFC lightweight champion Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov will next land in the octagon to defend his title within the first few months of next year, according to one of the Russian fighter’s managers.

Nurmagomedov was most recently in action on September 7, when he submitted interim champion Dustin Poirier in their title unifier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.

READ MORE: Khabib vaults cage again to celebrate submitting Poirier to become undisputed champ at UFC 242

The Dagestani is aiming for what will be his third title defense in March or April of next year, according to Rizvan Magomedov, who helps manage the unbeaten star.

“Khabib’s next fight is being planned for March-April,” he told Russian news agency TASS.  

Nurmagomedov’s victory over Poirier extended his perfect record to 28-0, but was the first time he had fought since defeating Conor McGregor in October 2018 – with the pair subsequently fined and suspended for the post-fight melee that marred proceedings in Las Vegas.

Nurmagomedov, 31, has not been a particularly frequent fighter since joining the UFC seven years ago, with 2013 being his most active year with three bouts.

He underwent knee surgery in 2015 which ruled him out for the whole of that year, subsequently fighting twice in 2016, once in 2017, twice in 2018, and once this year.

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A fight in March or April of next year would then allow Nurmagomedov, who is a devout Muslim, to take the necessary break for Ramadan at the end of April.

Nurmagomedov’s father and trainer, Abdulmanap, has said a 30-0 record would be enough for his son to achieve before retiring – which Khabib himself has confirmed he is targeting  “as a minimum.”

READ MORE: ‘For Khabib 30-0 is enough, he wants his last fight in Moscow’ – Nurmagomedov Sr.

Longtime lightweight rival Tony Ferguson – who is on a 12-fight win streak – is widely seen as the next opponent for Nurmagomedov.

The pair have been scheduled to face each other on no fewer than four previous occasions, only for injury or illness to one or other fighter scuppering the bout each time.

Nurmagomedov recently said he was “around 80 percent sure” that his next fight would be in Russia, naming potential venues in Moscow and St. Petersburg which could see UFC crowd records smashed.

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