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‘It’s very hard to say no to Dana’ - Khabib details White’s attempts to make him return

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Khabib Nurmagomedov admits it was not easy to make a final decision, especially when negotiating with UFC president Dana White.

Khabib Nurmagomedov describes his most recent meeting with UFC president Dana White.
Khabib Nurmagomedov describes his most recent meeting with UFC president Dana White.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

After months of goading to a point of badgering, UFC president Dana White finally gave up on his efforts to lure Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement. The lightweight title is now vacant as Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler attempt to fill that void at UFC 262.

None of us know what happened behind those countless closed-door meetings. But during the UFC 260 weigh-in show on Friday, “The Eagle” spoke a little bit about how those negotiations went.

“First of all, I want to say, it’s very hard to say no to Dana White,” Khabib said. “I’m gonna be honest because this guy come… sometime he’s nice, sometime he’s not nice. Sometime he say one thing… Anyways, it was very honest, real talk with two real men. This is what I feel.

“In the last meeting, he come and he say, ‘Hey, what we gonna do?’ I say, ‘Nothing changed.’ And I think, just my opinion, lightweight division have to go on. I don’t want hold division. My decision is no change and I hope you gonna understand me because if someone don’t wanna fight if someone finish, you have to leave him alone. What do you think about this?”

At the end of the meeting, White made some calls to get things moving with the new title fight at 155 pounds. During those moments, Khabib admitted having a bit of difficulty in finally letting go of his throne.

“He call, and he say, ‘Hey, this fight is official.’ He talk about Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler. And he was waiting for my answer,” Khabib recalled.

“After meeting, I feel little bit sad because officially, they make vacant lightweight title. Even I’m retired, inside my heart, I really love competition.”

Khabib will be present at UFC 260 this Saturday as he corners his cousin Abubakar against Jared Gooden at the ESPN+ prelims.