18:58 GMT23 January 2021
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    In October, Russian Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov announced that, after defeating Justin Gaethje, he had finished his last professional bout. In an emotional statement, he explained he was not going to fight without his father, who passed away due to COVID-19 complications earlier this year.

    Khabib Nurmagomedov has named the three strongest lightweight fighters in the world in the UFC at the moment - Irish mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Conor McGregor, American Dustin Poirier, and Russian Islam Makhachev.

    The UFC champion, who earlier this year announced that his time in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) had come to an end, also pondered over candidates capable of "taking" his lightweight belt as he addressed an upcoming bout between Poirier and McGregor.

    "My belt will [eventually] be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor", Nurmagomedov told Match TV, adding that it was hard to predict who Poirier or McGregor might later face in their quest for the lightweight belt.

    In the same interview, Nurmagomedov spoke about his possible return to the Octagon, revealing the organisation really wants his return, and saying that "their desire is understandable".

    "[UFC president] Dana [White] and I are in touch and did not discuss the issue with the vacant belt", he said. "This is because they want me to continue. This is clear - I have been in the league for nine years and have not lost. I have a story, a big fanbase. I don't blame them and their desire is understandable. They persuade, I will not hide, but this is not surprising. They offer conditions and fighters, but it's hard to surprise fighters. I finished half of the top 10 ahead of schedule. And so yes, I repeat: there are conditions and offers. In a couple of weeks, Dana and I will discuss all the points. I would not like to have the likelihood of my return".

    In October, ESPN called Nurmagomedov the best MMA fighter on the planet, regardless of weight category. The announcement came shortly after Nurmagomedov announced his retirement following a victory over US fighter Justin Gaethje. The undefeated fighter explained that he was not going to fight without his father, who died of COVID-19 complications this year.

    Tags:
    Conor McGregor, UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov
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