With Conor McGregor returning to the Octagon and defeating Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, there have been many questions about his next bout. Several UFC fans want a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, this won't be happening without one major stipulation.
Speaking with ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, said that there is a critical fight that McGregor must win in order to set up his title shot. He must face off with Justin Gaethje.
"If Khabib wins on April 18, Conor McGregor is not getting a title shot – simple," Abdelaziz said. "Dana White is the best promoter of all time because he understands fighting and matchmaking. The only way Conor McGregor can fight for a title is if he beats someone like Justin Gaethje. If he were to do that, it would be hard to deny him."
The April 18 fight that Abdelaziz is referencing will pit Nurmagomedov against Tony Ferguson. This title bout will take place during UFC 249 in Las Vegas. Ferguson is the No. 1-ranked contender and will have an opportunity to win the title.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor last faced off with each other in UFC 229. Nurmagomedov was the victor after he defeated the Irishman by submission during the fourth of five rounds and retained his lightweight championship belt.
Following the bout, both fighters took part in a brawl. Nurmagomedov leaped out of the cage and attacked McGregor's cornerman, Dillon Danis. The fight continued both inside the octagon and outside, resulting in multiple suspensions and fines.
Nurmagomedov was suspended for six months and had $500,000 taken from his $1 million fight purse as a fine for his actions. McGregor missed out on six months of action and had to pay $50,000. Two of Nurmagomedov's cornermen, Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov, were suspended for one year.
Nurmagomedov made his return to the octagon in UFC 242 and defeated Dustin Poirier. This set up his upcoming bout with Ferguson. McGregor, on the other hand, secured a TKO victory over Cerrone in UFC 246.
UFC president Dana White told TMZ Sports that he would prefer a rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. Although he doesn't know if this bout will ultimately take place due to the necessary timeline.
"I don't know if Conor wants to wait for him [Nurmagomedov]," White said. "We'll have to see what happens. Conor might have to wait."
(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC/Getty)