Khabib Nurmagomedov will make his return to the octagon on Oct. 24, UFC president Dana White has announced.
White confirmed to CNN that Nurmagomedov, the Russian lightweight champion, will return to action against interim champ Justin Gaethje as he bids to continue his undefeated career following a tragic time in his personal life.
Nurmagomedov’s father and coach, Abdulmanap, died from issues related to COVID-19 earlier this month. But White told CNN that Nurmagomedov will be ready to return in October.
“It’s been very rough on him,” White said. “His father was a hero to him. He loved his father. They had a very, very close relationship, and it was very hard on him.”
Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) originally was scheduled to face Tony Ferguson in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant their fifth fight booking went by the wayside.
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 book himself a future shot at Nurmagomedov. News of the death of the champion’s father put any plans for a summer matchup on hold.
However, according to White, that bout will still take place, with the date now set for Oct. 24. at a venue to be confirmed.
“It’s going to happen, I tell you right here, right now,” White said. “That fight’s going to happen: Khabib vs. Gaethje, October 24.”
White previously has hinted at Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje taking place on “Fight Island,” though that remains up in the air.