Dana White Says Khabib Nurmagomedov Can’t Just Sit Out With The Lightweight Title

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If Khabib Nurmagomedov follows through with his vow of unity to sit out until his teammates’ suspensions are up, he may return to the Octagon without a championship.

UFC President Dana White followed up on Donald Cerrone’s recent out-of-nowhere promotion of an interim title fight he claims to have against Conor McGregor this summer with a statement of his own — fight or give up the belt.

“Guys can’t sit out and wait that long when you have the title,” White said, per MMA Fighting. “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.”

Nurmagomedov received a $500,000 fine to go along with a nine-month suspension stemming from his role in a UFC 229 melee that saw the UFC Lightweight champion leap into the crowd, causing an all-out brawl following the end of his bout with McGregor. Nurmagomedov’s cousin, Abubakar Nurmagomedov and teammate Zubaira Tukhugov, were each hit with a one-year suspension and $25,000 fine for their respective roles. In a show of unity, Nurmagomedov is paying all three of their fines and said he won’t fight until his two teammates are eligible to compete again in October.

McGregor was suspended six months and fined $50,000, meaning he’ll be eligible for a UFC return in April.