Thousands of fans were likely thrilled to hear that Khabib Nurmagomedov could be eligible to fight again as early as this April, but it looks like it could be a while yet before the champ returns to the cage.
On Tuesday the Nevada Commission announced that Nurmagomedov has been suspended for 9 months and dinged for $500,000, for staring the post-fight brawl at UFC 229 (Conor McGregor was suspended for six months and was fined $50K). The Commission also reported, however, that if Khabib does a public service announcement for anti-bullying, his suspension could be reduced to six months. So, the vaunted grappler could be eligible to fight in April if that happened. Sounds good right?
Well, following the announcement, Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN MMA this:
“He’s done with Vegas for giving his brothers such harsh punishments. He loves MSG [Madison Square Garden]. Lots of his fans live around there, and New York has always been good to him. He misses fighting in New York.”
Now, his “brothers”, are Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, who were suspended for one year and fined $25,000 each as a result of their actions during the brawl. So, they won’t be eligible to fight until October, 2019. Abdelaziz says Khabib will not fight until their suspensions have concluded.
Obviously, if Nurmagomedov sticks with this stance, then this would mean 2019 would be a one fight campaign for the champ, which isn’t good news for the UFC or a lot of fans.
One would think that if indeed, Khabib doesn’t plan on fighting until the fall, then the chances of Conor McGregor facing off with Donald Cerrone are now, significantly higher. Then again, what will be the plan for former interim champ, Tony Ferguson? Would the UFC look at having him fight McGregor? Or possibly Dustin Poirier?