UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will be returning to the Octagon in October following the death of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, at age 57 earlier this month.
The news comes from UFC president Dana White, who confirmed to CNN that Khabib would be taking on Justin Gaethje on October 24. The location for the event has not yet been announced.
The matchup is the product of a series of complications that have taken place in the UFC over the past year, many of which were due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson, but for the fifth time in as many years, the bout was called off (this time due to the coronavirus outbreak). Gaethje replaced Nurmagomedov in the May fight and defeated Ferguson via TKO in the fifth round to claim the interim lightweight title. The fight between Nurmagomedov and Gaethje was originally planned for September, but now White has emphasized to CNN that “that fight is going to happen.”
The fight will be Nurmagomedov’s first since his father’s passing. Abdulmanap, who was also his son’s coach and a major figure in the Dagestan MMA community, was hospitalized in May with “pneumonia-like” symptoms and was later diagnosed with COVID-19. He tragically passed away after the virus caused complications with his preexisting heart problems.