After earning a referee stoppage in May against Tony Ferguson to capture the interim UFC lightweight championship, Justin Gaethje finally has a date for his showdown with the champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov. UFC president Dana White confirmed Tuesday that Nurmagomedov will make his long-anticipated return to the Octagon on October 24 against Gaethje at a to-be-determined location.
“That fight’s going to happen,” White said during an appearance on CNN, per ESPN. “Khabib vs. Gaethje, October 24.”
While Nurmagomedov has shown he can throw hands with the best of them, stunning and knocking Conor McGregor to the mat in their now-infamous bout, it was his ground game that was on full display in his last fight against Dustin Poirier. That spells trouble for Gaethje, who would likely prefer to keep the fight on his feet, with his last four wins all coming via knockout/TKO.
After tapping out Poirier in September 2019, Nurmagomedov has been on the sidelines for much of the year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ramadan and ultimately the death of his father. Gaethje-Nurmagomedov was originally slated for September but has been pushed back after Nurmagomedov’s father passed away on July 3 following heart surgery for a preexisting condition that was further complicated by COVID-19.
Gaethje was the first fighter to TKO Ferguson and will look to make stop the unbeaten Nurmagomedov in their title unification bout. Should he win, Gaethje previously told ESPN he wants a fight against the now-retired Conor McGregor.
“I’m here to make money,” Gaethje said. “When I beat Khabib, I will fight Conor because I’m trying to cash in.”