It seems that Khabib Nurmagomedov was right when he said that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would create an interim title during his absence.
The UFC lightweight champion has insisted that he will not return to action until November after his teammates, Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, were slapped with one-year suspensions.
Furthermore, he is confident that the promotion will not strip him of the 155-lb belt despite some fans urging the UFC to vacate the lightweight throne.
Now the promotion’s top honcho, Dana White, has broken his silence about Khabib’s decision to sit out for a year, and he implied that an interim title fight might happen soon.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor were both served with hefty fines and lengthy suspensions for their roles in the ugly post-fight brawl that ensued after their massive clash in the main event of UFC 229 last October.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission slapped Khabib with $500 000 fine and a nine-month suspension for instigating the violence at UFC 229 while McGregor will be sitting out for six months aside from paying a penalty of $50 000.
The ruling also stated that Nurmagomedov could return to the cage by April, but he already insisted that he will not enrol in an anti-bullying program.
And if there is one thing the undefeated lightweight was upset about, it was the one-year suspensions served to Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov – his teammates who brawled with “The Notorious” inside the cage.
He said that he would not return the Octagon until his teammates are eligible to fight again.
In a recent interview with Russian channel Match TV, Khabib reiterated that he has no regrets over his actions at the night of the UFC 229 brawl.
“I made enough wrong things in my life I’m sorry about, but you can’t turn time back and change something.”
“If I could, believe me, I would. But not this time. If the situation (jump from octagon) repeated 100 times, I would do the same 100 times. No regret about what I did.”
“Someone liked it, someone not. It doesn’t matter. I did what I wanted to do.”
“I am a sambo practitioner and sambo is martial art about self-defence without weapons. I didn’t attack someone first, I was attacked.”
Interim Title Fight
With Khabib sitting out until November, some MMA fans are calling for the UFC to vacate his lightweight belt.
But “The Eagle” is confident that he will keep hold of the throne as he thinks that the Nevada-based promotion will create an interim title while he is serving a suspension.
“I think that they will create an interim title.”
“It could be between [Dustin] Poirier and [Tony] Ferguson. Whoever wins will become the interim champion, and then at the end of the year, we will fight for the real belt.
“I think that could happen. [But] at the moment, I don’t know for sure.”
UFC president Dana White has expressed his disapproval on Khabib’s self-imposed one-year suspension.
But if he remains firm with his decision, White said that an interim title might be up for grabs soon.
“Guys can’t sit out and wait that long if they have the title, you can’t do it. So if that’s true and he is going to do that, then we have to figure out something else.”
“You start looking at whether it’s Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, or one of these other guys.”
“Whoever wants to…when opportunity knocks, answer the door. So we will see how this thing plays out. That’s the criteria.”
If that is the case, who will be fighting for the interim title? Would it be “El Cucuy” against Dustin Poirier? Or is it going to be the UFC veteran Donald Cerrone vs McGregor?
(Featured Image Source: YouTube/The Mac Life and Instagram/Khabib)