With Khabib Nurmagomedov's octagon return looming, the UFC Lightweight Champion's manager is already planning beyond that first fight back.
According to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Ali Abdelaziz has told him that Nurmagomedov is not only "close" to a booked fight but more than that, he thinks "Khabib will fight Georges St-Pierre at the end of the year" if "all goes to plan."
I asked Khabib's manager Ali Abdelaziz how close the Poirier fight in Abu Dhabi is, after NSAC shortened his teammates' suspensions today. "We are close. Good news coming very soon ... And if all goes to plan, I think Khabib will fight Georges St-Pierre at the end of the year."— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 22, 2019
Nurmagomedov last fought at UFC 229, submitting Conor McGregor in one of the biggest fights in the sport's history. That win made the champion 27-0, including 10 big wins inside the octagon. However, Nurmagomedov's victory wasn't that night's biggest story, far from it in fact. Instead, a post-fight brawl ensued, with Nurmagomedov leaping out of the cage as chaos followed in response. In the end, Nurmagomedov paid a $500,000 fine and was suspended until July 6th. He remained champion nonetheless and if now seemingly set for a title defense opposite Dustin Poirier at UFC 242.
On the other hand, Georges St-Pierre has been far more inactive, last fighting in November 2017. On that night, 'Rush' became the UFC Middleweight Champion, submitting Michael Bisping at the memorable UFC 217. That victory was impressive for a range of reasons and none more so than his pre-fight lay-off, going four years without competition after stepping away from MMA following his decision victory over Johnny Hendricks.
With that being said, Nurmagomedov would still likely be St-Pierre's biggest challenge yet.