With his teammate’s suspensions reduced, Khabib Nurmagomedov is on track to return at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi later this year.
The UFC would really like Khabib Nurmagomedov to headline UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi later this year. However, the lightweight champion has steadfastly refused to commit to competing while teammates Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov were suspended for their role in the brawl that followed UFC 229 last October. The pair, if you recall, were banned for a year after entering the octagon without permission to attack Conor McGregor, in addition to being handed nominal fines. Kahbib himself, meanwhile, was banished nine months, but fined $500,000.
Coincidentally, however, both Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Tukhugov saw their suspensions reduced by the Nevada State Athletic Commission at a hearing Wednesday, per a report by ESPN.
The NSAC approved 35 day reductions in sentence that would allow both fighters to get back in action at the beginning of September in exchange for community service. UFC 242 is scheduled to take place September 7, 2019. Khabib Nurmagomedov is expected to defend his title against interim champ Dustin Poirier at the event.
However, the status of Nurmagomedov’s teammates remained a concern. That concern has now been eliminated, with news that the pair will return early, the trade-off being that 10 hours of community service be performed.
10 hours to get back 35 days — not a bad trade-off. Although NSAC executive director Bob Bennett confirmed representatives of the fighters reached out to the commission to broker the deal, the move will be highly scrutinized. The brawl that followed UFC 229 was a low point for the sport of mixed martial arts. The new deal, meanwhile, serves the UFC’s best interests first and foremost. No mention as to why the fighters are only now eligible for reduced sentences was given Wednesday, but it’s certainly odd that the option wasn’t offered during the original disciplinary hearings months ago.