Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to the octagon on October 24, UFC President Dana White announced.
White confirmed to CNN that Nurmagomedov, the Russian lightweight champion, will return to action against interim champion Justin Gaethje as he makes an offer to continue his career undefeated after a tragic moment in his personal life.
Nurmagomedov’s father and coach Abdulmanap died earlier this month of COVID-19 related problems. But White told CNN that Nurmagomedov will be ready to return in October.
“It has been very hard for him,” said White. “His father was a hero to him. He loved his father. They had a very, very close relationship, and it was very hard for him. “
Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) was originally slated to face Tony Ferguson in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant his fifth bout reserve was on the way.
Gaethje (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC)) stepped in and stopped Ferguson in the fifth round on May 9 at UFC 249 to claim the interim title and reserve a future opportunity for Nurmagomedov. The news of the champion’s father’s death put any plans for a summer showdown on hold.
However, according to White, that fight will continue to take place, with the date set for October 24 at a location to be confirmed.
“It’s going to happen, I’m telling you right here, right now,” White said. “That fight is going to happen: Khabib vs. Gaethje, October 24.”
White has previously hinted that Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje will take place on “Fight Island”, although that remains in the air.