UFC president Dana White has said he expects a “yes or no” on Khabib Nurmagomedov’s future when the pair meet in a reported showdown on Friday, while the lightweight champion has produced an animation making light of negotiations.
A typically bullish White insisted on Thursday that he expected his chat with the star of his promotion to be brief, although those words seemed to contrast with Nurmagomedov’s prediction that a “big discussion” was in store.
The Russian superstar shared another cinematic animation on his Instagram page a day before he was said to be renewing pleasantries with White, showing the UFC boss striking a deal with Nurmagomedov and his managers, Ali Abdel-Aziz and Rizvan Magomedov in the style of a classic Soviet thriller.
“Khabib and I will have a five-minute conversation,” White told MMA Junkie, having been busily building up Max Holloway’s fight with Calvin Kattar on “Fight Island” on Saturday, as well as the blockbuster rematch between former champion Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier a week later.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 15, 2021
“Yes or no. When I left Abu Dhabi last time, we corresponded, we discussed why I think he should continue to fight.
“I think he will fight, but we’ll see. Let’s not argue or talk for a long time. Either yes or no.”
White seemed to suggest that Nurmagomedov had not been thinking clearly when he dramatically announced his retirement after emphatically retaining his title against Justin Gaethje in October.
“He was very emotional after the fight with Justin Gaethje,” said White. “Now he has time to rest, he has time to think about everything else.”
ESPN writer Brett Okamoto said that the pair would meet ahead of the UAE Warriors 15 event on Friday, where Nurmagomedov is supporting several fighters on the card.
Nurmagomedov has already held business meetings while he has been in Abu Dhabi, announcing on Thursday: “Working on exciting projects. Getting ready to turn around some directions – you will find out soon.”
Fans immediately speculated that the talks with White could lead to Nurmagomedov vacating his belt, which could allow McGregor and Poirier to fight for the strap.
A return to the octagon against Georges St-Pierre has also been mooted, with the two-weight champion admitting he would be excited by the match-up.
Speaking in November, Nurmagomedov made it clear that he anticipated any chat would require more than a matter of minutes.
“We always have fun when we meet,” the Dagestani powerhouse told Red Fury MMA.
“We’ll see. Dana has something interesting for me, I have something interesting for him.”