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UFC News: Khabib Nurmagomedov All but Confirms His Official Status to Corner Islam Makhachev Against Dustin Poirier at UFC 302

Published 05/14/2024, 4:45 AM EDT

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Will fans get to see the “Eagle” make a UFC appearance soon? Rumors are there that the former lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, who last appeared in UFC 280, will be making a comeback to corner his friend and protege Islam Makhachev against Dustin Poirier.  Makhachev will defend his ‘155’ lbs belt against ‘Diamond’ in UFC 302 and Nurmagomedov has been dropping hints that could mean he will be attendance in New Jersey.

Khabib Nurmagomedov left the alleyways of the UFC back in 2020 after the sudden demise of his father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. The 35-year-old stepped away after his final fight against Justin Gaethje upon his mother’s request. Nonetheless, he continued to be a mentor for Islam Makhachev and his brothers Umar Nurmagomedov and Usman Nurmagomedov and was in their corner for some fights, before retiring from his coaching role as well. But now it is possible he may show up on June 1 at the Prudential Center.

In an Instagram post, it seems like Nurmagomedov could have hinted at something significant. Through his Instagram handle, ‘Eagle’ shared a story where the entire team Khabib posing for a picture and captioned it as “Serious team assembled to accomplish the mission.” However, he himself was nowhere to be found in the picture.

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Earlier as well, Nurmagomedov hinted at a comeback to be in Makhachev’s corner. A couple of weeks ago, he posted an image on Instagram where he was helping out Makhachev and added a caption, “33 days before the fight. Lets go my Brother @islam_makhachev #ufc302 #LightweightChamp.” Then there was the obvious hint via an Instagram story about UFC 302.

His Instagram story featured the UFC 302 poster with airplane emojis sparking rumors of a potential comeback. Nurmagomedov’s last UFC appearance was when Makhachev clinched the lightweight title in UFC 280 against Charles Oliveira.

‘The Eagle’ decided that he would be leaving the MMA stage altogether to spend time with his family. This is one of the prime reasons why he didn’t corner Makhachev when he fought against Alexander Volkanovski twice. But Makhachev’s upcoming challenge is unlike any battles he’s faced before, and it seems like ‘Eagle’ knows it too.

It is important to note that this is not the first time such rumors have gained the attention of MMA enthusiasts. Amidst the hubbub of UFC 300, similar speculations were making rounds when reports of his former trainer Javier Mendez allegedly disclosing that the former UFC champ was back on the mat were making rounds.

Nevertheless, this turned out to be just speculation, as Mendez later clarified, “I’m just letting you guys know that, you know, stop all this nonsense [on the internet] regarding Khabib [coming back to the UFC] and me and him training. There’s been no such thing happening. We’re not discussing training. We never have. Khabib is still devoted to what he said [about not fighting again]. He’s devoted his time to his family. He’s not working people’s corners. He’s not gonna ever fight. To my knowledge, it has never been spoken about.”

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Yet this was not the only time Mendez discussed Nurmagomedov’s comeback.

Javier Mendez’s two cents on the return of the ‘Eagle’

Back in 2023, Khabib Nurmagomedov finally opened up about the reason for his absence from Islam Makhachev’s corner. The former champ emphasized that he would like to spend more time with his family, considering that his kids are growing older and he would like to be there for them. ‘Eagle’s reason is valid but his teammates seemed to share conflicting opinions about it.

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The head coach of American Kickboxing Academy, through a social media post, hinted at Khabib Nurmagomedov’s return. He wrote, “I wonder if ‘the Eagle’ [Khabib Nurmagomedov] misses this feeling? I say he does, but once your time is up like my time when I retired. The best is just remember your memories and cherish your accomplishments because time always wins and we must move on to the next challenge in our journey of life On to the next [Eagle] and coach journeys.”

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Weighing in, although his comeback seems far-fetched, at least till we hear it from the horse’s mouth, fans can all but hope. This however, does give fans another reason to tune into UFC 302 live from Newark, New Jersey on June 1. But what is your opinion on it? We are interested to know! Share in the comments down below!

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Written by:

Suryakant Das

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Suryakant Das is a senior UFC writer at EssentiallySports. His fascination with combat sports was sparked by gleeful moments he shared with his father watching wrestling. With over 1000 articles under his name, Surya closely follows the sport and keeps tabs on behind-the-scenes action.
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Edited by:

Joyita Das