Friday, August 19, 2022

Khabib Nurmagomedov Believes UFC Will Create Interim Champion During His Absence

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov expects to sit out until after October and that may force the promotion to crown an interim champion in his absence

Khabib Nurmagomedov is sticking to his guns when it comes to his ongoing beef with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

The sanctioning body punished Nurmagomedov in a recent meeting by handing the lightweight champion a nine month suspension and a $500,000 fine for instigating the post fight brawl at UFC 229 this past October.

While part of the agreement stated that Nurmagomedov could lessen his sentence by three months if he completed an anti-bullying campaign for Nevada, the undefeated Russian passed on that offer.

“[The NSAC] said to take part in a social campaign, the state of Nevada is a place where they allow drugs, prostitution and gambling,” Nurmagomedov said according to an interview with SportBox (translation courtesy of RT Sport).

“Let them work on themselves [and their own behavior]. There were fighters who didn’t fight for two years and didn’t have their belts taken for a year and a half. I’m ready to fight, they were the ones who banned me,”

In fact, Nurmagomedov is now expected to sit out of action for the majority of 2019 after his teammates — Abubaker Nurmagomedov and Zubair Tukhugov — were both handed one year suspensions for their roles in the same post fight brawl.

In his absence, Nurmagomedov teases that the UFC might introduce an interim championship in the lightweight division and then the winner would face him later this year when he returns.

“I think that they will create an interim title,” Nurmagomedov stated. “It could be between [Dustin] Poirier and [Tony] Ferguson. Whoever wins will become the interim champion, and then at the end of the year we will fight for the real belt.

“I think that could happen. [But] at the moment I don’t know for sure.”

Ferguson is already a former interim champion after he defeated Kevin Lee in 2017 to win the title while Conor McGregor was on hiatus following his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather.

The title was later stripped when Ferguson injured his knee and was unable to face Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 last April.

As for Poirier, he’s gone 4-0 with one no contest in his past five fights including a trio of recent knockouts against two former champions in Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis.

As of now, UFC has made no announcements regarding plans for the lightweight division if Nurmagomedov really does sit out until October.

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