Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White was left reeling this weekend by the revelation that UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov had announced his retirement on October 24, 2020 following his last title defense. The news, which the former champion has reiterated several times in the intervening months, was said to have caught the promoter completely off guard.
“I just did not see this coming,” White said at the post-fight press conference for UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland. “Other than the multiple times he has told reporters he was retired, and the times that he told me at all the meetings we’ve been having, and that time he mentioned having promised his mother he wouldn’t fight again after his father died, there was just nothing to indicate this was a possibility.”
The newly-vacant lightweight title would be put on the line in a bout between recent signing Michael Chandler and streaking contender Charles Oliveira, with Conor McGregor on standby in the inevitable event one of them gets COVID. White added that Khabib is very interested in seeing if “anything tremendous” happens in the title fight when considering his future.