Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to make first UFC title defence in November/December

Khabib Nurmagomedov is hoping to make the first defence of his UFC lightweight championship towards the end of the year.

In an Instagram post, “The Eagle” clearly doesn’t have a preference among the plethora of title contenders vying for his attention.

However, Nurmagomedov did mention Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, Kevin Lee and Eddie Alvarez as potential next opponents.

“Lightweight division is the most competitive division in UFC,” Nurmagomedov wrote. “At this moment, atmosphere is very heated: there is Conor and Tony, Poirier, Lee and Alvarez, all of them are good. Fight with any of these guys would be very interesting and competitive.

“I never choose opponent, fought with any fighter who was offered me to fight, and I’m not going to change that. I’m coming back November/December to defend my belt. Whoever UFC decide to fight me with, I’ll sign.”

Lightweight division is the most competitive division in #UFC At this moment, atmosphere is very heated: there is Conor and Tony, Porier, Lee and Alvarez, all of them are good. Fight with any of these guys would be very interesting and competitive. I never choose opponent, fought with any fighter who was offered me to fight, and I’m not going to change that. I’m coming back November – December to defend my belt. Whoever @ufc decide to fight me with, I’ll sign. ❗️ Лёгкий дивизион всегда был самым конкурентным в #ufc В данный момент ситуация очень накалённая, есть Конор, есть Тони, есть Порье, Ли и Альварез, каждый из них хорош по своему. С любым из них получится хороший, конкурентный бой. Я никогда не выбирал себе соперников, дрался с теми кого мне предлагали и сейчас тем более не собираюсь выбирать соперника. Я собираюсь вернуться в ноябре или в декабре ИншаАллагь. Какое решение #ufc примет то и приму. #bigdramashow #ufclightweight #mma #ufc #победатолькоотВсевышнего #inshaaAllah

A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) on

The Dagestan-based grappler’s proposed dates fall in line with him observing Ramadan before embarking on what is sure to be a grueling training camp for the first defence of his belt.

Nurmagomedov won his championship after dominating last-minute replacement Al Iaquinta on his way to a routine unanimous decision victory at UFC 223 earlier in April.

He was originally scheduled to fight then-interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, though Ferguson suffered a knee injury just days before their bout. A hastily-made fight with UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway then fell through for Nurmagomedov.

However, the obvious match-up to make is Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor. In Brooklyn, recently-stripped lightweight titleholder McGregor landed himself in trouble after turning up to the UFC 223 media day with a group of men and attacking a bus transporting fighters in an attempt to get at Nurmagomedov.

In the incident, lightweight Michael Chiesa and flyweight Ray Borg sustained injuries which saw them lose out on their bouts scheduled for UFC 223. Therefore, it’s likely McGregor will face legal ramifications for his involvement in what happened in Brooklyn which could see him endure another long spell of inactivity. But if McGregor can avoid severe punishment, a fight with Khabib would likely smash UFC pay-per-view records.

You could also easily make a case for Nurmagomedov fighting Ferguson, though this would be the fifth time the pair have been booked and the UFC will be reluctant to commit to such an ill-fated match-up once again.

Meanwhile, Alvarez, Poirier and Lee are all coming off impressive victories and have requested their next to be for the lightweight belt.

No matter the opponent, Nurmagomedov’s first title defence will be met with plenty of intrigue.

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes is an MMA writer who has covered the sport since 2013 for publications such as Vice Sports, Fightland, Sherdog and now Fighters Only, where he serves as freelance digital editor.