Khabib Nurmagomedov finally wore Dana White down. late last night, White took to social media to finally confirm that the undefeated lightweight champion would not be returning to the Octagon. Khabib last fought at UFC 254 in October, defeating Justin Gaethje and then retiring in the cage. He said after that fight in an emotional speech: "This is my last fight. No way I can come here without my father. When Dana called about Justin, I talked with my mother for three days. I promise this would be last fight. If I give my word, I have to follow this." Khabib's father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away early in 2020 from Coronavirus complications.
29-0 it is.
— danawhite (@danawhite) March 19, 2021
With Khabib Gone, The Lightweight Division Is Up For Grabs
For months now, White has said he would not strip him of the title, thinking he could get him to come back and fight one last time to attempt to even-up his undefeated record at 30-0. That all ended this week, after a dinner between Khabib, White, and others where he finally got the UFC president to listen."29-0 it is," White said, posting a photo alongside Nurmagomedov. "He is 100 percent officially retired. It was incredible to watch you work, Khabib. Thank you for EVERYTHING and enjoy whatever is next my friend."
Obviously, this means the division is up for grabs. Also being confirmed last night from multiple sources, the now-vacant title will be decided at UFC 261 on May 15th when Michael Chandler faces off with Charles Oliveira. Some were unhappy with this match-up, as most feel Dustin Poirier should be fighting for the belt next after defeating Conor McGregor in January. Alas, those two are now on a collision course to finish off their trilogy this summer. Chandler was on that same card in January making his UFC debut, and he impressively finished Dan Hooker. He steps in the cage with Oliveira, who has won eight in a row. Khabib leaving certainly makes this one of the most interesting divisions in the UFC for 2021.