UFC 257: Khabib Nurmagomedov predicts future of lightweight division ahead of McGregor vs Poirier

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Anyone who knows a little about the world of MMA will know that Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated Russian superstar, retired from the sport back in October.

Given that he has now left, the decision had to be made as to who will take the lightweight belt.

Khabib has even gone as far as to say who he thinks will ultimately go on and claim the belt that he held for so long with Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier battling it out at UFC 257 in the new year.

The fate of the whole 155lb division has been up in the air ever since Khabib made the decision to retire from the sport he has dominated after his win over Justin Gaethje back on October 24.

After his decision, UFC president Dana White has tried numerous times to get the Russian to change his mind, however, he was firm with his desire to walk away from the sport that has given him so much.

It coincided with the death of his father Abdulmanap who also happened to be his coach as well after there were complications after his father contracted Covid.

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It has now been months since Khabib retired with a perfect 29-0 record and it has taken until now for him to speak on just who he thinks will take his vacant lightweight title.

"Lightweight has always been very competitive," Nurmagomedov told Match TV via translation by RT Sport.

"All major UFC events in 2020 were built around lightweight. First [it was] Conor's comeback, then Gaethje against Ferguson. Then Poirier's comeback. Then my fight with Gaethje. This weight [division] has always been interesting and competitive."

According to Khabib, there are three fighters that stand above the rest in the division.

"Top three [lightweight] fighters right now?" he asked. "Poirier, McGregor, and [Islam] Makhachev. He is not in the top five yet, but those are the best fighters.

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"My belt will [eventually] be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor."

Khabib also stated that it would be difficult to predict who the winner out of McGregor and Poirier would face in their bid to capture the title.

However, the Russian did indicate that he in fact might relinquish the belt before Poirier and McGregor face off in just under a month.

He also said that his main reason that he still has the belt even after he announced his retirement is simply because of Dana White’s continued efforts to try and bring him back to the UFC.

"Dana and I are in touch and did not discuss the moment with the vacant belt," he said. "This is because they want me to continue.

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"This is clear - I have been in the league for nine years and have not lost. I have a story, a big fanbase.

"I don't blame them and their desire is understandable. They persuade, I will not hide, but this is not surprising.

"They offer conditions and fighters, but it's hard to surprise fighters. I finished half of the top 10 ahead of schedule.

"And so yes, I repeat: there are conditions and offers. In a couple of weeks, Dana and I will discuss all the points. I would not like to have the likelihood of my return."

Many have thought that Khabib could be tempted to return to the Octagon to fight another UFC superstar in Georges St-Pierre.

If the Russian did he would look at taking his record to an incredible 30-0, however Khabib stated he would only return to fight one person and unfortunately we will not be able to see it.

"I would have fought only with Muhammad Ali, but he is not with us," he said.

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