The title bout won’t be happening at UFC 253, reportedly due to the passing of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, but Ali Abdelaziz says the title unification fight will still happen in 2020.
“Khabib is not retiring,” Abdelaziz said to TMZ Sports (via Jed Meshew of MMA Fighting). “Khabib has some goals, he has some things he wants to accomplish. You will see him before the end of the year. Now him and Dana (are) talking and me talking to the matchmakers and we’ll try to set a date. I’m sure Dana is gonna let everybody know when Khabib is gonna fight. We have a blockbuster main event, him versus Justin Gaethje, two of the best lightweights in the world today and the recent era. We see what Khabib does to all his opponents. We see what Justin Gaethje did his last four opponents. He dismantled Tony Ferguson. He made him look like an absolute amateur and that’s the best two guys in the world. They’re gonna fight.”
There are still four UFC pay-per-view cards happening in 2020 after UFC 253, so there are plenty of chances for Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje to happen.
Abdelaziz does admit that Khabib is heartbroken over the death of his father, but the bout with Gaethje will still happen.
“Khabib is a different breed too,” Abdelaziz said. “Of course, he’s heartbroken. It’s his father, it’s his mentor, it’s his best friend, but at the end of the day, Khabib’s father had a legacy he wanted Khabib to accomplish. Khabib is a living legend and that’s where legend comes from, legends come from adversity, from death, from a lot of things. And that’s what Khabib does. He comes back from back surgery, from ACL surgery, from the death of his father. He’s gonna fight Justin Gaethje and they’re gonna put on a great display of martial arts, and we are the winners. The fans are the winners, the promotion are the winners. It’s gonna be a blockbuster fight card, for sure.”
Whenever the bout does come to fruition, it would be the second straight title unification fight for Nurmagomedov.