Dana White won’t accept “I’m retired” for an answer.
The UFC president will meet with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov this week and encourage the fighter to give it one more go. It will be their first meeting since Nurmagomedov announced his retirement in October after UFC 254.
Dana White wants one more fight from Khabib
White told ESPN he will meet with the fighter in Abu Dhabi where the promotion is hosting its “Fight Island.” The plan is to bring Nurmagomedov back, especially after he choked out Justin Gaethje in the second round of his final fight.
“I’m obviously meeting with him because I think that he should fight again,” White said. “Look at what he did to Justin Gaethje [in October]. Look at what he's done to every opponent he has faced. ... I think he should fight again and I'm going to press him as hard as I can for one more.”
Nurmagomedov, 32, went out as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world in the Yahoo Sports rankings and was a perfect 29-0. He was emotional after his third title defense and shockingly announced he would not fight again.
Khabib retires after father’s death
It was his first fight without his father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who died of COVID-19 complications in July. Khabib said he promised his mother he would not fight again.
White has voiced doubt that Nurmagomedov is actually done and won’t return at some point to fight. He reiterated that to ESPN.
“As a promoter, you always want to see the best guys in the world, but at the same time, when a guy wants to retire, he probably should,” White said. “The difference with a guy like Khabib is he's been through so much, and losing his dad was a major blow to him. Yet, his dad wanted him to hit 30-0.”
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov said prior to his death he wanted his son to retire after he reached 30-0. One more fight and win would do that, and it appears to be White’s focus even though he said he’d love to see him fight 10 more, per ESPN.
White wants Khabib-McGregor rematch
The fight would be a rematch between Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, if McGregor can get past Dustin Poirier. They will fight at UFC 257 on Jan. 23 on “Fight Island.”
"No matter what you think of Conor personally, Conor McGregor is not only one of the best in the world, but one of the best to ever do it. And right now, he's as focused as he's ever been. I don't know if this is going to be the same Conor after the Poirier fight, but if this Conor sticks around for the next year, how do you not do Khabib vs. Conor again?"
Nurmagomedov and McGregor met for the title on October 2018. Nurmagomedov won via submission in the fourth round. It was their only meeting and setting up a second might be easier said than done.
A scrum ensued after that 2018 fight and the relationship between the fighters has been testy ever since. Nurmagomedov’s manager said in February “the only chance this fight could happen is in the street.”
More from Yahoo Sports: