Conor McGregor may have a dangerous bout with Dustin Poirier out ahead of him, and Khabib Nurmagomedov may never fight again, but that doesn’t mean that the idea of a rematch between the two men doesn’t still carry a lot of intrigue for fans and the UFC alike.
So much so that it seems to be one of the major pieces of the puzzle with which Dana White hopes to lure the ‘Eagle’ back into the Octagon. Nurmagomedov surprised even his own AKA teammates, following his submission victory over Justin Gaethje back at UFC 254, when he announced his sudden retirement from competition. In the months since, White has painted a confident picture of his ability to negotiate the Dagestani champ back into the fold. And in a recent guest appearance on the SHOUT! Buffalo Football Podcast, White gave his vision for what an ideal future would hold.
“When I fly out there (to ‘Fight Island’), Khabib is going to be there, too. I’m going to meet with Khabib while I’m there,” White said of his upcoming meeting with Nurmagomedov (transcript via MMA Junkie). “In a perfect world, if Conor wins this fight, I’d love to see the rematch with him and Khabib. It’s the biggest fight that can be made, and it’s the fight that makes sense.”
Nurmagomedov and McGregor first fought back at UFC 229 in October of 2018, in the first defense of Nurmagomedov’s title—which had previously been vacated by the Irishman due to inactivity. Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor with a neck crank in the fourth round of their bout, which was followed by a massive brawl instigated by Nurmagomedov and members of his entourage.
However, despite the continued bad blood between the two men – and the potential money to be made – Nurmagomedov has never sounded particularly invested in the idea of rematching McGregor. Speaking to TMZ back in February, Nurmagomedov made it clear that he feels any serious talk about fighting McGregor again wouldn’t be because people thought a second bout between the two men would be any more competitive.
“They just want to see drama,” Nurmagomedov said of fan interest in the fight (transcript via ESPN). “If you ask people who’s going to win, 99% is going to say Khabib, like he did the first time, right? But people want to see a big drama show, only for this one. If we talk about money, this is good. If we talk about drama, this is good. If we talk about real lightweight contender or real lightweight championship fight, this is not good. This is not a real lightweight championship fight. But if we talk about drama and money, of course this is good.”
Even just earlier this month, Nurmagomedov joked that the only way the promotion could lure him back would be with a fight against the now departed boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor 2 may be the perfect fight for Dana White, but if Nurmagomedov sees it as a worthwhile goal he’s certainly hiding it well.