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‘Khabib needs time’; Dana White not rushing to book Nurmagomedov

UFC president Dana White said he feels horrible for lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov after the passing of his father.

UFC 229 Khabib v McGregor: Press Conference Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov recently lost his father, and trainer, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov from complications associated with COVID-19. The elder Numagomedov spent weeks in a military hospital in Moscow and passed away on July 3rd. He was 57.

According to MMA Fighting UFC president Dana White has gone on record saying he and the promotion are not looking to book their champion any time soon, offering Nurmagomedov as much time as he needs away from the sport.

“We feel horrible for Khabib and how much he loves his father and how close they were,” said White. “[We’re] just giving him time to mourn and do whatever he needs to do. We’re not bothering him at all right now. We’re just leaving him alone.”

After defending his UFC lightweight crown against Dustin Poirier on Yas Island at UFC 242 last September, Nurmagomedov was expected to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. This was the fifth time those two had been matched together; this time the date was set for April 18th at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic scuppered those plans. What followed was a hastily put together replacement fight between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fl for the interim lightweight title.

Gaethje upset Ferguson for that belt. Now he, presumably, will wait to face Nurmagomedov for a title unification bout.

Regardless of title implications, White expressed that the promotion is in no hurry to book Nurmagomedov.

“We’re not messing with Khabib right now,” White said. “We’re leaving Khabib alone. Khabib needs time. Khabib’s going to need time to get his head straight and figure out what’s next for him. We’re going to leave him alone for a little while. We’ll get it figured out.”

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