Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 29 November 2020

UFC

UFC: Date set for Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje with Abu Dhabi expected to host title fight

Dana White reveals plans for lightweight bout – and the UFC president recently told 'The National' that the capital will stage the clash

A date has been set for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s return to the octagon, with his unification lightweight title bout against Justin Gaethje to take place on October 24, according to UFC president Dana White.

The undefeated champion, whose record stands at 28-0, has not fought since last September, when he defeated interim belt-holder Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.

Although the location for Nurmagomedov’s title clash with current interim champion Gaethje has not been confirmed, White told The National earlier this month that it would be staged in the UAE capital.

Nurmagomedov, 31, has been mourning the death of his father and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who died this month from heart complications after contracting Covid-19.

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, White confirmed Nurmagomedov would face Gaethje in October, although he did not confirm its location.

"It's going to happen, tell you right here, right now,” White said. “That fight is going to happen. Khabib versus Gaethje, October 24.”

There had been speculation his father’s death would prompt Nurmagomedov to retire, but the lightweight champion’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told Abu Dhabi Sports last week that his client would most likely fight twice more before calling time on his career.

Asked by CNN how Nurmagomedov was dealing with the personal tragedy, White said: "It's been very rough on him. Everybody is close to their parents, but his father was a hero to him. He loved his father, they had a very, very close relationship and it was very hard on him."

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Dana White exclusive

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The UFC brought down the curtain on Sunday on the inaugural Fight Island, a four-event residency in Abu Dhabi. Designed primarily to allow its international athletes to compete during the coronavirus pandemic, Fight Island was deemed an “extension” of the five-year deal signed between the UFC and Abu Dhabi in April last year.

White said this month that Fight Island would continue to be staged in the capital, as the promotion strives to put on live shows during the pandemic. Although no date of return has been made public, mid-September has been mooted.

When asked by The National on Tuesday about Nurmagomedov’s October comeback taking place in Abu Dhabi, local organisers said nothing had been confirmed on their side.

Updated: July 28, 2020 09:30 PM

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