Khabib Nurmagomedov may have retired after UFC 254, but as far as the UFC is concerned, he is still the undisputed lightweight champion. As Dana White himself said on Saturday, the 155-pound title still belongs to “The Eagle.” “No interim title, no vacant title. None of that.”
On Monday, Khabib’s longtime teammate at AKA Daniel Cormier spoke about the situation to Ariel Helwani, first looking at it based from the Henry Cejudo situation.
“I think that’s smart and that speaks to the value that Khabib has,” Cormier said. “It’s so hard to discuss these things because you always end up, like, insulting people when you don’t want to. Henry Cejudo said he was done, the same night, they announce Petr Yan was gonna fight somebody for that title.
“You don’t do that to Khabib Nurmagomedov. You sit and hope. You wait. You sit and wait and hope. Like Dana said, he was very emotional. You could see it, it came out of him. So you sit, and you wait, and you hope that the stance changes, and you do get that 30th fight.”
Cormier went on to suggest an interim championship, which he believes would ultimately benefit everyone involved.
“Everybody hates the interim championship. But for me - because Khabib’s such a big star - when that guy becomes interim champ, Dustin Poirier, he made more money that (UFC 242) night than he’ll ever make,” Cormier explained. “Because now he shares on the pay-per-view.
“Justin Gaethje made more money than he’ll ever make because now he shares on the pay-per-view as a belt holder. So I’m all for that, those guys are getting their money.”
Assuming Khabib returns to try to accomplish 30-0 and the belt does remain in his possession, the Georges St-Pierre super-fight likely goes out the window. With other contenders down the line, Cormier gave his possible scenario.
“Could you imagine if McGregor gets a hold of the interim championship? And now you go to Khabib and go, ‘Hey, October, Abu Dhabi, you and McGregor again, boat loads of money?’ Because now, if you’re Khabib, you walked away, you could say ‘I want more.’”
Conor McGregor is scheduled to make his UFC return in January in a rematch against Dustin Poirier. As Helwani stated in this video, the matchup has yet to be finalized, contradicting Dana White’s previous confirmation.