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Dana White: Lightweight title isn’t vacant, Khabib is still the champion

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According to Dana White, the UFC lightweight title still belongs to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

After his second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last weekend, Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from competition. But even after Tuesday’s updated rankings, “The Eagle” remains listed as the company’s undisputed lightweight champion.

Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz later stated that the UFC lightweight title hasn’t been vacated. On Saturday’s post-event interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Dana White backed up Abdelaziz’s statement.

“He’s the lightweight champion right now,” White said of Khabib. “No interim title, no vacant title. None of that.”

As the 32-year-old Khabib told Jon Anik during the Octagon interview, he is walking away from the sport to honor the promise he made to his mother. He also confirmed his retirement upon his return to Russia days later.

But for White, the post-fight announcement may have been done out of sheer emotion.

“He was super emotional after that fight,” White said. “And he got the measles, the mumps, whatever he got, then he broke his toe leading into that fight. Took the fight. And the passing of his father, I just think he was super emotional in the moment that night.

“I’m not saying he’s gonna hundred percent come out for 30-0, but I get the feeling that he will.”

With the win over Gaethje, Khabib improved his undefeated record to 29-0.