UFC president Dana White has revealed Khabib Nurmagomedov could be tempted back into the octagon.
The 32-year-old Russian had announced his retirement in October 2020 after extending his perfect professional record to 29-0 with a submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
Khabib was fighting for the first time since the death of his father last summer, and felt the time was right to bow out.
— UFC (@ufc) January 16, 2021
However, White met with Khabib in Abu Dhabi on Friday, and the UFC president confirmed during those discussions the prospect of a return to action had been discussed.
Speaking to ESPN in a video posted on the official UFC Twitter account, White revealed Khabib had suggested if there was “something spectacular” at the upcoming lightweight contests which feature Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, then he could be sparked into a return.
“Basically the way he feels right now, he’s accomplished everything he set out to accomplish,’ White said.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) January 16, 2021
“He thought (Charles) Oliveira looked really good in his last fight against Tony Ferguson, so next Saturday we’ve got the McGregor/Poirier fight and (Michael) Chandler and (Dan) Hooker on there.
“So his words to me were: ‘I am going to watch this fight. I would never tie up the division, hold the belt or kept the belt away from anybody else.
“‘If these guys do something spectacular, show me something spectacular and make me want to come back and fight’.
“So I have a feeling that if someone delivers, it could be on the main event or co-event, and like I said he thought Oliveira looked good, if these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them.”
White added: “He just needed some time to clear his head and (if) these guys do what I think they are going to do next weekend, it sounds like he might be interested in fighting one of them.”
The Irishman, 32, will make his own return to the octagon for the first time in 12 months against Poirier at UFC 257 on January 23.
McGregor would not shirk the chance to meet Khabib again.
“I think he’s afraid to fight me. That’s for damn sure. And I don’t blame him. I know exactly what to face,” McGregor told ESPN.
“I fought the best of him that night, he fought the worst of me on that night. He knows it, I know it, his team knows it.
“I’ve (got) the answer to destroy that man. He can pull the wool over people’s eyes for only so long.”