Khabib Nurmagomedov hints at early UFC return: 'When Khabibtime comes I will smash all of them'

Undefeated champion says he's ready to fight any time

Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his UFC lightweight title against Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi last September. Getty
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Khabib Nurmagomedov has teased a July return to the UFC, confirming he will be ready to fight again much sooner than previously anticipated.

The undefeated lightweight champion, currently observing Ramadan in his native Dagestan, was not expected to enter the octagon competitively until after the summer, with September or October mooted.

Nurmagomedov, 31, had been slated to defend his crown against Tony Ferguson at the original UFC 249 last month, but eventually could not make the bout after being unable to leave Russia amid the coronavirus crisis. He had flown home from his training camp in the United States as the UFC scrambled for a location to stage the fight.

Ferguson, the No 1-ranked challenger, will instead take on Justin Gaethje this weekend in an interim title bout at the revamped UFC 249 in Jacksonville, Florida, with the winner promised a showdown against Nurmagomedov later this year.

However, in a post on Instagram late on Wednesday, the champion seemed to have a different idea.

“I can fight anytime - Ramadan finishes May 23. July I’m gonna be ready,” Nurmagomedov said. “Stop talking about me, this is coronatime. When Khabibtime come I will smash all of them.”

Nurmagomedov, whose record stands at 28-0 in mixed martial arts, is riding a 12-fight win streak in the UFC. He last fought in September, when he defeated Dustin Poirier on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi to defend his belt for the second time.

Nurmagomedov has been criticised in some quarters for not taking the fight with Ferguson (25-3) last month. It was the fifth time a clash between to two has been called off.

Ferguson, who also enjoys a 12-fight win streak, has since called for Nurmagomedov to be stripped of his title and to even retire from the sport.