The date for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje fight has been officially set for October 24 (October 25 in Australia). The undisputed lightweight championship bout between the reigning 155-pound champion and the division’s interim titleholder serves as the main event of UFC 254. The location of pay-per-view fight card is yet to be determined.
UFC President Dana White revealed the date in an interview with ESPN’s Don Riddell. The further announcement followed on the promotion’s social media channels.
“It’s going to happen, tell you right here right now,” White said. “That fight is going to happen. Khabib vs Gaethje, October 24.”
Undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) last fought in September 2019, when he submitted Dustin Poirier in the third round, making the second successful defense of his belt. In October 2018 he forced Conor McGregor to tap out in Round 4, after winning a vacant 155-pound belt by unanimous decision against Al Iaquinta.
“The Eagle” was scheduled to face Tony Ferguson this past April. The bout fell off due to coronavirus pandemic, which was the fifth time when the contest didn’t go ahead.
The champion recently lost his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who suffered a heart attack, followed by complications caused by COVID-19.
“It’s been very rough on him,” White said. “His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a very close relationship and it was very hard on him.”
Justin Gaethje (22-2) replaced Nurmagomedov and defeated “El Cucuy” via fifth-round stoppage at UFC 249 in May. In addition he earned the interim belt, recording the fourth win in a row. Prior to that he scored three wins via first-round finish against Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza and James Vick.
The venue accommodating UFC 254 live on pay-per-view is yet to be determined. “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi and UFC Apex in Las Vegas are being the possible hosts.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Georges St-Pierre
In addition, in another recent interview with ESPN, White was asked whether he would consider Nurmagomedov’s final fight to be against MMA great Georges St-Pierre (assuming “The Eagle” would retain his belt in a fight against Gaethje). He said that the Gaethje fight was a done deal, as well as Conor McGregor was always looking for the rematch. Nevertheless, he appeared open for the GSP fight.
“I don’t know, obviously he has got this Gaethje fight that is a done deal,” Dana White said. “He is fighting Gaethje next. Then I don’t know who his last fight would be to make him 30. I don’t know.”
“I mean listen, at the end of the day, the Conor McGregor fight – I know Conor has always wanted that fight since the last one, I mean that is the fight to make. I don’t know. Again, we will see how this all plays out. But, the Gaethje fight is absolutely, positively the next fight for him.”
When asked if he would entertain the idea of making Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St Pierre fight, presuming “The Eagle” would come up with such request for his final appearance inside the Octagon, White was positive.
“Sure,” he said. “Yeah, it’s the last fight of his career,” White said. “The guy’s been great. He’s been great to the company, he’s been great for the sport, and, I like Khabib a lot. I would do anything Khabib wanted to do.”
Officially retired from fighting, George St-Pierre (26-2) held UFC welterweight and middleweight titles, including 13 championship wins. The 2020 UFC Hall of Fame inductee is widely considered as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.