Dana White: Khabib’s Return “Doesn’t Sound Very Positive,” Poirier vs. Chandler the Fight to Make

Dustin Poirier, UFC 257 Weigh-In
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 22: Dustin Poirier poses on the scale during the UFC 257 weigh-in at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 22, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

In terms of in-cage action, UFC 257 delivered when it came to the lightweight foursome atop the card. In a pair of fights that turned out to be 1 and 1A in terms of providing big finishes, Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier electrified fight fans with knockouts (TKOs, to be exact) of Dan Hooker and Conor McGregor.

While no titles were on the line, a shot at the belt was waiting in the wings for one of, if not both, the winners from Saturday’s event in Abu Dhabi. The belief heading in was that current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, who still officially holds the belt despite previously announcing his retirement, would either see a performance that interested him enough to return for one more fight — or that the winners would be paired up for a vacant title.

It seems like it’s the latter. Speaking at the post-fight press conference following UFC 257, promotion president Dana White revealed that he had been in touch with Khabib. And he relayed what “The Eagle” had told him.

“Dana, be honest with yourself. I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys,” Nurmagomedov reportedly told the UFC President. “It doesn’t sound very positive,” White added, in terms of a Khabib comeback.

As he has since day one, White reiterated that Khabib “won’t hold the division up. He already retired. He’s basically retired. I’m the one who’s been trying to get him to do one more.” There’s no time frame for having the Russian officially relinquish the title however. “It doesn’t matter, because these two [Chandler and Poirier] just fought. They’re not fighting again any time soon. So we’ll get it figured out.”

Asked if pairing Saturday’s winners up for the vacant title was the fight to make moving forward if Khabib is done, White said simply “Yeah.”

Sorry, Charles Oliveira.  The Brazilian appears to remain the odd man out. But with McGregor insisting that he plans to stay active in 2021, the likes of Oliveira, Tony Ferguson, Dan Hooker, and Justin Gaethje could all still be in the running for a big fight as well.