The UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, was handed down a nine month suspension, retroactive to October, for his role in starting a brawl at UFC 229. His punishment also included a option to reduce the suspension by three months if he participated in an anti-bullying public service announcement. Instead, Nurmagomedov has gone the other way, saying not only does he refuse to do the PSA, he also refuses to fight again until the one-year suspension of his teammates, Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, are over as well and is targeting a November return.
But while solidarity with one’s teammates is commendable, it also could cost him his UFC title.
Speaking at the UFC 234 post-fight press conference, Dana White addressed Nurmagomedov’s recent statements, saying that Khabib will not be allowed to sit on the sideline and hold the lightweight division up for a year.
“Guys can’t sit out and wait that long when you have the title,” White said. “You can’t do it. So if that’s true and he’s going to do that, then we’d have to figure out something else and you start looking at whether it’s Conor McGregor-Tony Ferguson or one of these other guys.”
“When opportunity knocks, answer the door. We’ll see how this thing plays out.”