28 July 2020

Khabib Nurmagomedov set for return against Justin Gaethje on October 24

UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to fight for the first time in more than a year when he faces Justin Gaethje on October 24.

The Russian was originally expected to take on Gaethje in September, but the bout was pushed back after the death of Khabib’s father earlier this month following heart surgery and coronavirus diagnosis.

Khabib with his dad (left) after his last fight in September 2019 (Tass/PA Images)

And UFC boss Dana White has spoken about just how challenging the past few weeks and months have been for Khabib since his dad was placed in a coma back in May.

As reported by CNN Sport, he said: "It's been very rough on him.

"His father was a hero to him, he loved his father, they had a very close relationship and it was very hard on him."

Khabib has not fought since he defeated Dustin Poirier in September last year as he extended his perfect professional record to 28-0.

Meanwhile, Gaethje put in a career-best performance to defeat Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 back in May and put himself in position for a shot at the lightweight title.

And despite all the hurdles the UFC have had to overcome to get the fight made, White is now unwavering in his belief that Khabib-Gaethje will happen.

"It's going to happen, tell you right here right now. That fight is going to happen."

Gaethje has strung together four successive wins since losing to Poirier in April 2018, but will undoubtedly head into the bout the underdog.

Back in May, the American stated his intention to beat Khabib and then face Conor McGregor in his home country of Ireland.

Gaethje excelled at UFC 249 as he stunned Ferguson with a fifth round stoppage (SIPA USA/PA Images)

He said: "Khabib is the best in the world. I’ve been working since I was four for challenges like this.

"And I’m happy to represent the United States of America versus Dagestan or Russia’s best. He’s 28-0 and there’s no other challenge I want right now. I want to fight him.

"Then I’ll go to Ireland and do what I got to do."

McGregor has since announced his retirement from the sport.

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