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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 8 March 2021

Dana White announcement: Khabib Nurmagomedov challenges rivals to 'do something spectacular' at UFC 257 to tempt him back

Headline bout pits against one another former champion Conor McGregor in a rematch against former interim title-holder Dustin Poirier

Khabib Nurmagomedov has not closed the door on a return to the UFC, telling Dana White he could come back should “something spectacular” entice him after watching both lightweight bouts at next week’s UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.

The undefeated champion, 32, retired in October immediately following his victory against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, which also took place in the capital. Nurmagomedov’s father had died in July, with the 29-0 fighter saying he promised his mother that he would not compete again.

White met with Nurmagomedov at UAE Warriors 15 on Friday, where they discussed his possible return.

Speaking to ESPN early Sunday on the sidelines of UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar - the first of three events on the latest Fight Island series in Abu Dhabi - White said: “Basically, the way he feels right now is that he’s accomplished everything that he set out to accomplish.

“He thought that [Charles] Oliveira looked really good in his fight against Tony Ferguson. Next Saturday, we have the McGregor-Poirier fight and [Michael] Chandler and [Dan] Hooker on there.

“His words to me were, ‘I’m going to watch this fight.’ He said, ‘I would never tie up the division, hold the belt, keep the belt away from anybody else. These guys do something spectacular, show me something spectacular, and make me want to come back and fight.’

“So I have a feeling that if somebody delivers - it could be on the co-main event or the main event - and like I said he thought Oliveira looked good. Two fights coming up, Oliveira looked good, if these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them.”

White added: “He’s the best in the world right now. His best performance was against Gaethje with all that stuff [his father’s death] going on. He just needed time to clear his head and if these guys do what I think they’re going do next weekend, it sounds like he might be interested in fighting one of them.”

UFC 257, the finale to Fight Island Triple Header, features promotional debutant and three-time Bellator champion Chandler against Hooker. The headline bout pits against one another former champion McGregor in a rematch against former interim title-holder Poirier.

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Updated: January 17, 2021 01:36 AM

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