Khabib Nurmagomedov to Fight Justin Gaethje on October 24, Says UFC’s Dana White

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Khabib Nurmagomedov will defend his UFC lightweight title against Justin Gaethje on October 24 at a yet-to-be determined location. 

The news comes after Gaethje stepped in for Nurmagomedov to fight Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title at UFC 249 with just over a month’s notice. Gaethje battered Ferguson to secure the win via TKO in the fifth round. UFC President Dana White had said that Nurmagomedov would fight the winner of Gaethje vs. Ferguson, and now it’s official.  

“It’s going to happen, tell you right here right now. That fight is going to happen. Khabib versus Gaethje, October 24,” White told CNN Sports

Things only got more difficult for Nurmagomedov after he reluctantly withdrew from UFC 249 due to the pandemic. The Dagestani wrestling specialist’s father and trainer, Abdulmanap, 57, died in a Moscow hospital due to complications from a COVID-19 infection in early July.

“It’s been very rough on him,” White told CNN Sports. “His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a very close relationship and it was very hard on him.”

CBS Sports notes that there has been some speculation that Nurmagomedov would retire after achieving a 30-0 professional record. His record would improve to 29-0 with a win over Gaethje. With that in mind, White recently told ESPN that he would let Nurmagomedov hand-pick his final opponent, whether it be a rematch with a currently retired Conor McGregor or a superfight with MMA legend Georges St-Pierre. 

“At the end of the day, the Conor McGregor [rematch], I know Conor has wanted that fight since the last one [in October 2018],” White said. “That’s a fight to make, but I don’t know. We’ll see how this plays out. Sure, [I would be open to St-Pierre] if it’s his last fight. This guy’s been great to the company, great to the sport. I like Khabib a lot. I would do anything Khabib wanted to do.”