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Dana White leaves door open for Khabib Nurmagomedov to return: ‘He’s still the champ’

LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White said the door has been left wide open for Khabib Nurmagomedov to return to the octagon when he confirmed the undefeated Russian remains in place as the UFC’s undisputed lightweight champion.

Talking to reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage after UFC on ESPN+ 39, White was asked to elaborate on earlier comments suggesting he thought Nurmagomedov (29-0 MMA, 13-0 UFC) may return to the octagon in a bid to extend his perfect professional record to 30-0.

“Well, he didn’t say that he’ll fight, but he didn’t say no,” White said. “He’s considering the 30-0. His father wanted it and I think that he was super-emotional. (He) had the mumps, measles or whatever, broken toe, trained on a stationary bike for that fight, and then came in and fought, and he was super-emotional.”

Nurmagomedov said inside the octagon at UFC 254 that his decision to retire at 29-0 came as a result of a promise he had made to his mother following his father’s death in July. But White said that the UFC has left the door open for “The Eagle” to return and continue his title reign, should he wish to do so.

“He’s still the champ – there’s no vacant title open right now, or no interim title happening. He’s the champ and we’ll give him some time to figure out what he wants to do. … I feel pretty good (about it). He said he was going to talk with his mother.”

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